West Ham boss under pressure after shocking home defeat
PUBLISHED: 13:30 05 November 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Late goals only paper over the cracks as West Ham slump to new low
Remember all that hope and expectation from the beginning of the season? Remember those chances to go third in the Premier League?
Those aspirations now look laughable after a nightmare first half against lowly Newcastle United on Saturday.
Steve Bruce's side had scored just six goals all campaign before Saturday, but in an embarrassing opening 45 minutes, they could have doubled that tally.
We thought the game at Everton was a bad performance a couple of weeks ago, well this first half was infinitely worse and the fact that the team pulled back two goals late on was merely papering over the cracks.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini must hold his hands up. His team selection was poor. Why Ryan Fredericks did not start against a speedy Newcastle side was nonsensical.
Pablo Zabaleta was sadly lacking in pace, Angelo Ogbonna was again left on the bench, while Sebastien Haller was largely left isolated against a team who played with five at the back.
No pace, no Plan B, no urgency or potency, while one ball forward seemed to cut the West Ham defence to ribbons at will in the first half.
But perhaps the biggest problem is that of goalkeeper Roberto.
Since he came into the starting line-up following Lukasz Fabianski's injury, West Ham have played four games, lost three and drawn one.
The defence don't seem to have any confidence in their keeper and you can see why.
The second goal saw him come off his line and watch in no-man's land as the ball was headed home.
And then there was the free kick. Jonjo Shelvey shot from 30 yards and somehow it went straight through the Spaniard and into the net.
We knew that Fabianski would be hard to replace, but not this hard, we didn't think it would be this bad and it has already cost West Ham dearly.
So what did Manuel Pellegrini have to say about this debacle? Did he hold his hands up? Not really.
"It's really difficult to understand why we started the game with that attitude and without the pace that we need to win the game," he said, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his players with pace were sitting on the bench.
"In some games before we lost here, Crystal Palace was two set-pieces, this game was also two set-pieces.
"They're important points. In the second half we reacted a little bit more, but that's not enough. You need to play well for 95 minutes in the Premier League to win."
This miserable run of form started with that dismal Carabao Cup defeat at Oxford where Pellegrini fielded a weakened side.
The team have not looked the same since that humiliation and the manager must find a way to get his team out of this rut.
"We start the season well and then we lost to Oxford, after that we started losing games so we need to know why," said the boss, who must have heard the boos from the stands at the end.
"The second half, we improved a little bit, but I repeat you cannot play 45 minutes in a game. I need to find the reason to understand why we start the game in that way."
He's right and he has to find it quickly or this season is a write-off already.
The fans are already restless and those expectations have all but vanished.