Harry Redknapp said Queens Park Rangers' hopes of staying up are "in tatters" and dismissed claims that promotion next season will be easy.
After a 2-0 defeat by Stoke, QPR are 10 points adrift of safety with four games left and will be relegated on Monday if Aston Villa beat Manchester United.
"It looks almost impossible," said Redknapp, who vowed to stay on.
"People say this team will come straight back up - that's rubbish. There's a lot of work to be done."
Redknapp's side started brightly against Stoke but were deflated by Peter Crouch's breakaway goal three minutes before half-time.
Jon Walters converted a late penalty to deliver a victory which lifted Stoke six points clear of safety and effectively sealed QPR's fate.
"I couldn't have asked for any more - we gave everything we had, worked hard and in the first half we were the better team," said Redknapp.
"We lost two key players - Adel Taarabt and Andros Townsend - with injuries and without them we were short of a little bit of quality. "
Asked what the defeat meant to his side's survival prospects, Redknapp told BBC Sport: "It looks in tatters doesn't it? But we've got to try to win a game or two. We've got to go to Reading next week and try to win. We've got to keep going."
Since taking over at QPR in November, Redknapp has only won four of his 21 Premier League games - giving him a worse win ratio (19%) than either of his predecessors, Mark Hughes or Neil Warnock (both 20%).
However, the former Spurs manager insisted he had no plans to walk away.
"It's difficult but life is not always fun," he said. "What am I going to do - play golf every day?
"I've enjoyed it even though it has been difficult, but you don't walk into a side that hasn't won for 13 games and start winning every week.
"There needs to be an awful lot of work done over the summer to put the club back into a position to challenge again next season.
"I think I could put a team together here that would have a real chance of getting up, but it's not going to be easy."