West Ham suffered their third defeat of the season away to Manchester United, which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League heading into the international break.
The Hammers were not expected to get anything from the game, but another loss will only add to the pressure Avram Grant is under to gain his first league win in charge. In his first three league games, his team have conceded nine goals and scored only one, a Mark Noble penalty against Bolton Wanderers.
The fixture list has not been kind to the Hammers, with a home game against London rivals Chelsea up next. They have two weeks to prepare against a side who have scored 14 goals in their opening three games. Grant, however, believes it is too early to judge his new team: “It’s only the beginning of the season so we cannot make any conclusions after three weeks. We must wait for 10-15 games to see our direction.”
The boss made two changes from the side that lost to Bolton the previous weekend, with Jonathan Spector starting at right-back and Luis Boa Morte replacing Frederic Piquionne to change the formation to a 4-5-1. The former United defender, who started the midweek clash against Oxford United at left-back, had a torrid afternoon. It was Spector’s error which led to Wayne Rooney scoring his first goal in as many games. His clumsy tackle on Ryan Giggs gave the referee no choice but to award the home side a penalty. His mistake gifted the Reds the lead, and from then on it was an uphill struggle for the Irons. His place in the team will now be under threat, with Manuel Da Costa and Tal Ben-Haim ready to step up to replace him. West Ham could have lost by a bigger margin had Robert Green not played. The keeper has made a decent return to domestic football since his disastrous World Cup performance. He made some top class saves to keep the score down to 3-0. However, Fabio Capello, who watched the game at Old Trafford, decided not to recall his former Number One for the upcoming qualifier against Bulgaria. Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole have been called up and they will both be looking to cement their places in the squad.
There were little positives to come out of the game, but Kieron Dyer had a good game as he looks to rebuild his career. Dyer, who has had a number of fitness problems, was unfortunate not to score on Saturday. Julien Faubert set up Dyer for a shooting opportunity, and his striker rattled the post. He was one of the only players in the team who looked capable of producing some quality up front. New signing Victor Obinna was unavailable to play but he should add some quality to what is currently a weak front line. The Nigerian international joins on loan from Inter Milan for the season, with a view to a permanent deal and becomes the sixth new arrival at Upton Park.
It is clear that Grant still does not know his strongest first XI yet and he needs time to get everything in order. Once he has a settled team, the results will improve and they should start to climb the table. There is no doubt that the next few results will give a clearer indication into how the Hammers will perform this season. After Chelsea at home, they play Stoke City away and face another home London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. The new manager needs to get some points on the table and if they fail to do so after six games, there will be growing unrest from Hammers fans. In our current climate of football it would not be a surprise if the owners decided to appoint a new manager after ten games or so of disappointment. The need for Premier League football is hugely important for a team like West Ham, who have financial problems, and if they feel the manager is struggling, they may have to wield the axe. For Grant, he has started the season the same way in which he finished the last, bottom of the table.