Scott Parker insists Cardiff City have exceeded expectations in prolonging their Premier League status this long, but is ready to switch off the life support on Saturday.
The Fulham caretaker manager is searching for a third successive victory for a club that have already been relegated.
If they manage it – and Brighton win at home against Newcastle later that same evening – then the Bluebirds will effectively be down as the Seagulls would be six points clear with two games left and a vastly superior goal difference.
It’s still actually possible that Fulham could not only relegate Cardiff, but overtake them for 18th place if they were to win their three remaining matches and Neil Warnock’s side lose all theirs.
The alternative – and rather more positive scenario for Cardiff fans – is that Warnock’s side repeat their most recent away success at Brighton and keep up the pressure on their rivals with two matches to go.
“I think Cardiff have done remarkably well and full credit to Neil for what he’s done,” said Parker.
“To still be in with a shout with three games left is a fantastic achievement.
“And that’s not being disrespectful in any way to Cardiff and their players, and Neil. If anything, I think it shows what a great job he’s personally done, and what that group of players have done.
“They come on Saturday fighting for their lives, and I’m looking at this game thinking it’s probably one of the toughest we’ve had, certainly since I’ve been here, due to the manager we’re facing and the fact the team is scrapping.
“I think we realise the challenge and we’ll get that message into the players for the weekend.”
Cardiff may still be walking the tightrope, but Fulham fell off some weeks ago and it appeared initially that their former midfielder was unable to get any more out of their under-performing squad than the two managers who had gone earlier in this same season – Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri.
Parker lost his first five matches in charge, but then earned a shock win over Everton and backed that up with a first away victory of the season – 1-0 – at Bournemouth.
He admits, though, that even if he beats Cardiff to make it three in a row and earns the job on a permanent basis, the current squad will not bear much resemblance to the group he would have in the Championship.
With Juventus now among the club’s interested in Ryan Sessegnon, and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goalscoring catching the eye, Parker acknowledged that keeping Fulham’s best players may prove difficult.
“Relegation brings a lot of disappointment and uncertainty, and you understand the squad is going to change,” he added.
“When you’re at a football club with quality players, you’re in a position that if clubs come in and the players don’t want to be at the football club, you have a tough decision.
“But the owners are very positive and will be doing everything in their power to keep the squad as strong as possible going into next season.”
Fulham’s torrid run of nine straight Premier League defeats ended a fortnight ago with that 2-0 home win over Everton, followed by the triumph away at Bournemouth, winning praise for Parker.
In those two games, Fulham registered back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season, something Parker was particularly pleased with.
“It’s always nice to hear that players I’m coaching are appreciative of what we’re doing,” said Parker.
“That’s helpful, but ultimately I’ll get judged on results and what my team looks like every weekend, and I’m fine with that.
“At times this year we’ve been quite naive, but certainly over the last matches we’ve managed games really well and protected our goal.”