West Ham are in “disarray” and manager Slaven Bilic has “major surgery” to do to resolve their problems, according to BBC pundit Chris Sutton.
Speaking after Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Southampton, their fourth straight league defeat, captain Mark Noble said his side’s defending was “laughable”.
Noble added things “can’t get any worse” for the Hammers, who are 18th.
“It’s dark days for them and I can’t remember such an abject display,” Sutton said on BBC Radio 5 live.
West Ham only managed one shot on target against Southampton, who were comfortable winners thanks to goals from Charlie Austin, Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse.
Thousands of home supporters left the London Stadium in the final 10 minutes, with swathes of empty seats visible at the final whistle.
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‘Dark days, but Bilic deserves patience’
Sutton, who played in the top flight for Norwich, Blackburn, Chelsea, Birmingham and Aston Villa between 1991 and 2007, does not think the Hammers should sack Bilic.
“It’s been quite frankly embarrassing from West Ham,” he said. “It’s not a crisis but Slaven Bilic has some major surgery to do.”
Sunday’s loss followed league defeats by West Brom, Watford and Manchester City.
“They had a big chance to put it right but they are in disarray,” said Sutton.
“Can you blame the fans who left early? They had seen enough. It’s a massive job for Bilic now.
“He did enough last season to warrant patience at this stage. But their next three games – Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Sunderland – he cannot afford to lose.”
The credit is gone – Bilic
Bilic, though, does not believe he or his players can use last season’s exploits – they finished seventh – to deflect criticism from fans.
Speaking about the empty seats at the final whistle, he said: “That’s not a good sign. It hurts me as a manager and it hurts the team. It’s my responsibility, it’s my team, I know how it works and I’m not running away.
“These are the same players, and the same manager, as last year and at the moment everything that was really good last year is bad this season and everything that was average last season is now way below par.
“The season has only started, it’s true, but it’s happened for four games now and we have to change it big time.
“I told the players after we lost to West Brom that there is no need to panic, the credit was there for a lot of them. But now that credit is gone.”
I don’t think it could get any worse – Noble
Long-serving Hammers skipper Noble lamented a poor performance, which left them with three points from their opening six league fixtures.
“If I’m honest it could have been six in the end. Adrian pulled off some good saves and, on the bright side, I don’t think it can get any worse,” he said.
“Eleven goals [conceded] in three games is laughable and it’s not good enough. We’ve got to work hard for each other and look to ourselves.”
‘Players not helping stadium situation; Zaza was pathetic’
Sutton claims West Ham’s players should not use adjusting to the London Stadium as an excuse, reserving particularly scathing criticism for Italy forward Simone Zaza.
“When players like Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet, who were great last season, perform like that they are in trouble,” Sutton said.
“Zaza? He was pathetic. They need to snap out of it and quickly. The big problem is they are disjointed and concede goals.
“The players have a responsibility to provide the energy, passion and drive to get this crowd up. There might be teething problems with the stadium but the team on the pitch are not helping.
“We can make excuses about off-the-pitch stuff but the players have a responsibility to do better.”
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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37467160