West Ham lurch back towards crisis with Brighton debacle as David Moyes excuses grow tired
Whether West Ham find a way to survive this season remains to be seen but the idea that they might eventually charge clear of a relegation scrap now surely looks a fallacy.
Saturday’s crushing 4-0 defeat at Brighton was acknowledged by David Moyes as among the worst performances and results of his tenure.
The travelling support had already declared it thus, the second-half notable not merely for three Brighton goals (which ought to have been five or six) but also the most vociferous display of dissent yet towards Moyes, who was bombarded with chants of “sacked in the morning” and “you don’t know what you’re doing”.
Moyes said he understood the reaction and again referenced expectations raised by the success of the past two seasons but the refrain is growing tired. The board’s backing of the manager has been admirable, but also partly inspired by a lack of viable alternatives.
Ultimately, this is a team now so fragile that despite having thrashed Nottingham Forest last weekend and then played well at Old Trafford for 75 minutes in midweek, a tame collapse on the south coast came as little surprise and, on Monday, the club appears back on the brink of crisis.
For once, results elsewhere at the bottom of the division were not overly unhelpful - Moyes can thank Arsenal’s comeback against Bournemouth for that - but the Irons still head into a week in which a juxtaposed European campaign resumes just a point clear of the drop and wondering how many more will be needed to avoid it.
Moyes mentioned the cliched mark of 40 in the aftermath of his side’s Amex no-show, but with so many teams clustered in and above the danger zone, the bar will not be set that high.
That is just as well, because it is difficult to find quite where 17 points in 13 games would come from for the Hammers if required.
Moyes is right to point out that his side have played an unusual number of away matches since the World Cup break but that does not excuse a rancid return of just one League victory on the road all season.
There are more home games coming, but only marginally, and of seven League matches left at the London Stadium four are against teams currently in the top six.
It is only home victories in perilous circumstances against struggling Everton and Forest since the turn of the year that have Moyes’ and West Ham’s head above the water line. With a prolonged return to form seemingly beyond a side that has lacked for it for too long, further wins in the must-wins look the likeliest - and perhaps only - route to safety.