With new West Ham United manager David Moyes having time to work with some of his players during the international break and plenty of positive comments on his training methods, Irons supporters may have been hopeful of a strong performance and fancied their chances of picking up at least a point against Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
The Hornets came into the clash on the back of three successive Premier League defeats after an impressive start to the campaign, while the east London outfit had the individuals that can make a difference at this level – even if the likes of Michail Antonio, Andre Ayew and Javier Hernandez missed out at the weekend – despite their own poor form.
It was a new start under the Scot, but it was the same old story. It perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise as it is difficult to get an instant turnaround in fortunes and confidence in what has been a largely disastrous campaign for the Hammers.
In truth, Will Hughes’ strike for Marco Silva’s men in the 11th minute put the hosts on their way to a comfortable victory, and even though Moyes had set his team up to be strong at the back and narrow when defending, they simply didn’t do enough to prevent either of the goals they conceded on the day.
Some notable absentees from the 18-man squad meant that the youngsters like Declan Rice, Toni Martinez and Domingos Quina took their place on the substitutes’ bench, but none of them entered the field despite the fact that the former has made five Premier League appearances this season, while the latter two have been handed opportunities in the Carabao Cup.
Instead it was the same old story for West Ham, with experienced players like Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang and Andy Carroll producing performances that simply were not good enough on Sunday, and the travelling support certainly let them – and the unpopular board – know their feelings throughout the match and at the final whistle.
With those so-called experienced performers either drained of confidence or simply not good enough or up for the relegation fight that the east London outfit currently find themselves in, perhaps it is time for Moyes to not only include some of the promising youngsters the club has in the squad, but start to introduce some of them into the starting line-up.
Things certainly don’t look as though they can get much worse on the pitch right now, and the animosity of the supporters towards the former Sunderland and Manchester United boss and the David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady will certainly not help matters on the pitch.
Those frustrated and angry fans will certainly have more patience, support and affinity with the players that have come through the club’s youth system, and their inclusion in the team could help to improve the atmosphere around the London Stadium and provide a boost within the crowd.
Mixing the likes of the prolific Martinez – who can’t stop scoring for the U23s – and exciting young midfielders Quina – a reported target for Manchester United – and Martin Samuelsen with Hernandez, Lanzini and Kouyate could prove to be a tactic that is particularly effective.
They would certainly add some much-needed energy and determination to a West Ham first team that has often looked laboured and lethargic this term.
David Moyes certainly now knows what a big job he has on his hands to keep the Irons away from the relegation zone this term, but a blend of experience and youth could be the key to getting the fans on side and turning the club’s season around.