Pablo Fornals let David Moyes down miserably as West Ham were beaten 3-1 at home by Manchester United in Saturday night’s Premier League showdown.
The hosts made a lightning start with United vulnerable across the field throughout the first-half, as the Irons sought to capitalise on the opportunity of moving third with a win.
Tomas Soucek made the Hammers’ pressure pay just before the break with the go-ahead goal for his second of the season, but the Red Devils improved in the second period to flip the script through strikes from Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.
Moyes had named a mostly unchanged line-up from the side which beat Aston Villa on Monday night with striker Sebastien Haller the only alteration, coming in for the injured Michail Antonio after a second hamstring strain of the season.
Fornals, rated at up to €40m (£36m) by Football Observatory, has opened all 11 of the east London outfit’s Premier League fixtures this term, yet departed the action in the 75th-minute on Saturday having failed to add a third goal or assist to his record.
Moyes has previously urged the £67,308-per-week Spaniard to offer a greater level of creativity at the London Stadium, feeling Fornals struggles to match his energy with the level of output needed.
“Pablo has done really well, he is a really likeable boy and he works incredibly hard for the team,” he said.
“We are always demanding more from him because we want him to contribute with assists and goals and he has been doing that. He’s been more involved, and I have to say, his energy and enthusiasm in training is incredible and we really like him.”
Fornals failed to end his drought at home to Manchester United, despite West Ham holding the advantage throughout the first half and the early periods of the second, to now be four games without a goal and seven without an assist.
The 24-year-old had plenty of chances to break Dean Henderson’s goal line, with the Red Devils’ shot-stopper called into action in the second minute to scurry away danger as the ball fell for a snapshot at the near post.
A Fornals header near the half-hour mark again left Henderson scrambling before the ball rippled the side netting from a tight angle, before enjoying his best chance of the half with a delicate effort aimed towards the bottom left only to see the ball rattle the post.
Fornals would walk off the pitch to be replaced by Said Benrahma in the second half as West Ham chased an equalising goal before Rashford settled the tie, having registered a total of three attempts on goal and one off the woodwork, per SofaScore, but having missed two big chances to score.
The £24million Manuel Pellegrini signing further let Moyes down with three unsuccessful dribble attempts, completed just 14 of 23 passes, delivered just one cross that was inaccurate, was caught offside once, lost possession 17 times and lost eight of nine duels.
Fornals’ sole successful duel came from one in six on the ground, helping the Hammers to drop to seventh in the table and could end the weekend as low as 12th depending on results elsewhere.