Manager Chris Wilder says Sheffield United need an “incredible run” to avoid relegation after their awful start to the season continued with defeat at Crystal Palace.
The Blades offered little going forward and, in failing to beat Palace in their 17th match of the season, set the record for the longest winless start to a Premier League campaign.
This 15th loss leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with two points, 12 from safety. No club has stayed up after such a start to a campaign.
Jeffrey Schlupp opened the scoring for Palace with a deflected finish before going off injured.
Eberechi Eze, his replacement, doubled the lead with a stunning solo effort, running from inside his own half and finishing from 18 yards after evading a couple of challenges.
“It was the perfect storm last season – players were at the top of their game and we had no injuries,” said Wilder, whose side finished ninth on their return to top-flight football.
“Now injuries are hitting us quite hard… but we had enough on the pitch to get us a result. The result wasn’t decided when the team sheet came in. It was decided in fourth minute and the last 30 seconds of the first half.
“This club, over the past three, four years, is not used to losing games. It’s difficult, it’s a struggle, its ruthless and murders you at times with what you’re up against.”
Asked if United can get out of their predicament, Wilder said: “We have to do it sooner than later. There are records to be broken – we have to find a win from somewhere.”
United finished the game with 16-year-old substitute Antwoine Hackford on the pitch, the youngest player to appear for the club in the Premier League.
After five games without a victory, this was a welcome return to winning ways for Roy Hodgson’s Palace with the highlight undoubtedly Eze’s exceptional goal.
The 22-year-old forward has adapted quickly since making the step up from Championship club QPR on a five-year deal for £19.5m in August.
Eze’s first Palace goal was a sublime free-kick against Leeds in November. His second was just as pleasing on the eye.
Blades boss Wilder was furious his players did not close down the former Arsenal youth player but Eze’s calm and composed finish, after running half the length of the pitch, was delightful.