West Ham captain Mark Noble offered something of a dark rallying cry to anxious supporters – although even his words sounded a little hollow.
“It can’t get any worse,” he said, presumably ignoring the fact that, of course, it could.
He was speaking after West Ham Utd went down 3-0 against Southampton in front of their testy home crowd at the new London Stadium, displaying some inept defending and soulless attacking that some highlights became mocking memes on YouTube and Twitter.
They now sit in the bottom three, with one win out of five, their worst start since 2002. More worryingly, there appears to be no obvious clue that underpins the collapse, and no route away from their current Keystone Cop performances.
While some defences lapses were inevitable because of the makeshift nature of the back four, the same cannot be said for the strike force, which was the main focus of the summer. Even Dimitri Payet, the great hope, appears to have caught the contagion.
Noble said: “Eleven goals conceded in three league games before this game was laughable – and it’s not good enough. If I’m honest it could have been six.
“We could have kept playing all night and wouldn’t have scored. Our goalkeeper pulled off some good saves – I don’t think it can get any worse.
“I have been in this position a lot of times at this club. We’ve got to work hard for each other and look to ourselves. We can’t blame each other.
“It’s not good enough but luckily enough it’s early in the season and we’ve got time to turn it round.”
All talk before the game was with the problems of the London Stadium and the two – slump and venue – appear to be conjoined in a perfect storm.
West Ham have been losing points to the middle-ranking clubs in the Premier League and, fortunately, have been kept away from the high performing elite. But they will come, inevitably.
Slaven Bilic said : “We are not the first or the last team who has been in this situation in the Premier League and most of it is about confidence, but the club has the same players and the same manager who did good things last year.
“Eighty per cent of the team is the same, and of course we can talk about confidence and urge them to be confident, but you need one or two good results to get that confidence and that’s not happening.
“We are working hard in training, analysing and talking and it’s good until the game comes and someone punches us in the face, then we have a problem.”