After a run of disappointing results, today's game against Sunderland must secure West Ham three points. That’s the only result that will come close to pleasing manager Sam Allardyce.
He has seen the team slump from third in the Premier League to their present mid-table position.
Allardyce said: “We built expectation up in being in the dizzy heights of third and fourth in the Premier League, which was a magnificent achievement. That showed you that level of performances and results we were getting. I would not have expected to sustain that unless we didn’t have any injuries.
“Injuries have kicked in again in crucial areas. It’s such a fine line between those three points and one point, or that loss or the draw.
“We find ourselves in a very difficult position. Players have to realise that it’s not acceptable to have gone this far and have not won more games.
“Being unlucky doesn’t wash. It’s about making sure you see a game out when you’re in a position to win. That’s been the fine line and why we’re sat with only 39 points instead of 46, 47 or 48.
“We’ve got to accept that responsibility and make sure that Saturday becomes a three-point victory for us. Nothing else. We can’t accept anything else with the position we’ve put ourselves in. That puts extra pressure on the players, extra pressure on me, but we have to accept that and deliver.”
He added: “My huge disappointment is not beating Man United, not beating Tottenham. At the very least we should have drawn with Chelsea. Were those results in place now we would still be talking about European qualification.”
Sunderland have seen their own manager judged by results and found wanting and for Saturday's game new manager Dirk Advocaat takes over from sacked Gus Poyet as a stop-gap.
In a week when Allardyce was linked with the Black Cats job – presuming contract talks go nowhere with West Ham – the manager reflected on the fickle nature of success.
Big Sam said: ”Win all nine, I’m doing great. Lose all nine, get rid of him. That’s a bit of tongue in cheek by the way, but it’s true.
“Everybody would go away and say what a bad season it’s been. If we turn it around, what a great season. Everybody at the end of the season will remember the last eight or nine games, and that’s when you get hero status.
“Like Gus [Poyet] last year. Alan Curbishley here. It’s hero status. Roberto Martinez at Wigan. Didn’t happen in the end, they got relegated, but Roberto ended up winning the last six out of 10 games.
“I used to have this as a player. I used to have the same argument with my managers. They used to tell me I played badly, and I’d go: ‘Well, I didn’t play so well for the last 15 minutes but is that all you can remember?’ ”
“We had no video feedback, no analysis, no data like we have now. That’s what we’re like as human beings. That’s our way that we work. What’s most impressionable is what’s happened at the last part of whatever’s happening in our lives.”