David Moyes admitted West Ham had to play with the shackles on against Manchester City to avoid being on the receiving end of a hammering.
City clinched a comfortable 2-0 win, meaning West Ham remain in the relegation zone amid a seven-game winless run.
Moyes, though, praised the work rate of his players against last season’s champions – admitting they had to change their usual gameplan.
“I thought our effort was fantastic,” Moyes insisted to Sky Sports. “The players did everything they could.
“We set up to make things difficult for them and for periods we did do. We hoped to counter attack better more often but that is the difficulty against a side like that.
“I would love to play them at their game and have a go but that is why they are where they are in the league. They are a really good team.
“I want to be able to play, get forward and play good stuff. I feel we showed good organisational qualities tonight. We are in a really tough period of games at the moment.
“Getting a good structure, especially defensively because if you don’t concede then you have a good chance of picking up some form of points.”