It is a time when West Ham supporters are grateful for small mercies. At least, they will tell themselves, the opposition didn’t score – for the first time since August 21.
At least they were saved the humiliation of playing extra time against (albeit creditable) League Two opponents in the EFL Cup.
At least someone at some point got injured for sufficiently long to extend the game and provide a last-gasp window of opportunity.
At least there is Dimitri Payet, one of the most cultured dead ball dispatchers in the world, capable of sparing West Ham blushes and silencing the boos that had surrounded the home team at half-time.
At least they scraped through.
This was a win, of course, setting up at daunting home tie in the fourth round against Chelsea, but it showed to all Premier League teams heading to Stratford that West Ham are still shaky and unsure.
Manager Slaven Bilic will, rightly, point to the trial cup side – debuts for Alvaro Arbeloa and Edmilson Fernandes – and he will point to the win and the clean sheet, he will point to his 10-man side (Arthur Masuaku going off injured when all subs were used) – but he will know that the failure to kill off a League Two side early and completely – like Spurs at Gillingham – is indicative of a loss of confidence.
“It wasn’t a great performance, but we are through,” he told the club’s website. “We wanted to give a chance to the players who had not played much football. In the first half, we controlled the game and had a couple of chances, but wasted a couple of opportunities to go one-against-one with the goalkeeper.
“The most important thing is that we won the game and only by winning games, especially with clean sheets, will we get the confidence back that is obviously missing at the moment. It is logical after the last couple of weeks and it’s only with wins that we’ll get it back.”
As for the next round opponents, should West Ham be worried?
“Chelsea at home is a great game,” said Bilic. “Let’s say that it’s a very good thing for us is that we’re playing at home and that it’s a one-off tie.
“I’m expecting us to make improvements in the meantime. We have to earn a couple of good results and then the confidence will come back to us.”
Bilic can draw some comfort that his creative force of Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini are still capable of turning matches.
Defender Angelo Ogbonna told the club’s website: “Every time when Dimi comes into the game he can change things. It is not just about him, but Lanzini as well. He can keep the ball.
“Both of them are really important for us and they showed the different level they can bring to the team.
“It was a really tough game and it was not easy but we needed this win for the team and the manager.