West Ham fall short of expectations again
Over seventy minutes have gone by at the London Stadium and an already exacerbated crowd are starting to get restless.
After conceding early to a Connor Townsend strike shortly before the 10 minute mark and failing to recover, the writing is on the wall. A fact Hammers fans know deep down.
The tone of the match has been set by lack of creativity and quality from West Ham in the first half especially. All exemplified in a raft of opportunities at the feet of Ajeti, Rice and Lanzini culminating in just one shot on target' against a side who has conceded over 30 goals in the division below.
This isn't the West Ham promised after the take over, it's not even the West Ham of old. Passion, quality and a genuine threat in attack are all absent in the squad. Instead, Moyes was forced to start the second 45 minutes with three new faces due to the sheer lack of quality shown on the pitch.
But as the minutes tick by hope turns to desperation and as Mark Noble blasts a loose ball just outside the six yard box high over the bar, desperation turns into resignation.
As the final whistle goes boos ring out from the fans that remained to the end, slightly drowned out from the pandemonium from the away end. A one off maybe acceptable, a shock underestimation of an opponent in a lower league. The reality is that such a performance is not a surprise for the Hammers supporters.
Many would have been filled with anxiety about this fixture, a West Brom team flying high towards the top of the Championship table, scoring goals for fun and their manager? Just a West Ham legend in his own right and, arguably it's most successful manager in a generation.
Writing on the wall
Be under no illusion this was coming. West Ham's results under Moyes so far amount to just two wins - one against Gillingham in the third round of the FA cup, the other against a rock bottom Bournemouth - a draw against an Everton side who showed their vulnerabilities against Newcastle in midweek and two defeats to sides in the top 6.
You could argue that isn't so bad until but the manner of the defeat is what is worrying. Needing a half of football and substitutes at the break to get going, making simple mistakes that premiere league teams will punish you for and not being as reciprocally clinical when opportunities are handed to them are all symptoms of a team destined for a lower division.
Fans can talk all they like of Moyes but he has a great record in the premiere league. Casting aside a doomed job at Sunderland, even underwhelming stints at United and West Ham were not disasters.
In truth this was a bad fixture for the Hammers to have. Play well they'll get little credit, play badly and win they'll get grief. Losing didn't bare thinking about.
But lose they did and they need to turn around tired legs quickly. West Ham's next two games will be the 4th and 5th in the space of two weeks and the starting XI has yet to see a break.
“Today was nowhere near good enough for the standard that we should be at” said Mark Noble in a post match interview with TalkSport. Mr West Ham himself, who started the afternoon on the bench, said that this was a run out he really didn't need and voiced an air of frustration for the way that the club almost relies on his passion.
“Look, I'm 33 in May, I've been doing this for 15/16 years and a club at this level and with the money we have spent you can't rely on me. It shouldn't be like that, you can't rely on me to come on at half time in a FA cup match.
"We've changed managers, we've got to look at ourselves, no one else, and ask if you worked hard enough, was I good enough and the answer to that is no.”
Noble is often a source of ridicule for fans but he equally as often has insight into the fans mood and their anger is now squarely on the shoulders of three individuals.
Ten years ago, almost to the day, David Gold and David Sullivan bought the West Ham United promising the world.
At the time, the agenda for the new owners was to sort out “crazy wages” players were earning as well as getting the club to achieve success that mirrored Manchester City.
A year later the club was relegated, Sam Allardyce was appointed to steady the ship until it was time to put Bilic in charge. Three more managerial changes and over £400 million later, the club is once again on the precipice of a relegation fight.
Whether it's tactics, attitude, or raw talent, the results are not reflecting the investment that Gold and Sullivan have made. To top that off, due to the lack of stability the ability for West Ham to attract talented players, staff and managers is also reduced.
Ten years ago the new owners promised to compete with Manchester City, but the managerial race for Carlo Ancelotti showed the club are not seen to be a better prospect than Everton and Jarrod Bowen's extended contract negotiations over relegation clauses highlights the mind set of incoming players.
That's not what the fans were promised.
It's clear that there are no quick fixes for West Ham, however it does look like a tall order for the Hammers to leave any of their next five fixtures in a good mood. One thing is for sure, if West Ham can't win their run of fixtures against Villa, Watford and Norwich later in the season, the championship will once again beckon.