Hammers move off the bottom as Fulham fans turn on Mark Hughes

The manager cut an embattled figure as he stalked off the field at full-time having tasted another defeat and heard his competence questioned by the club's supporters.

Hammers move off the bottom as Fulham fans turn on Mark Hughes "You don't know what you're doing," they had sung early in the second half while, at the end, they made it clear that they wanted him out.

Yet the vitriol was not for Avram Grant, the endlessly under-fire West Ham United manager, but his Fulham counterpart Mark Hughes, who now finds the dubious chant affixed to his job description.

This was West Ham's first away win in the Premier League since the opening day of last season and their travelling fans recognised the need to embrace the moment. They revelled in it. Carlton Cole continued his scoring streak against Fulham with the first league double of his career, either side of a Frédéric Piquionne effort, as his team recovered from a dismal start to stun their hosts.

Grant punched the air at full-time – he had needed a victory to prolong his employment and this one tasted so sweet. "My daughter has just sent me a message saying that she knew we would win. Why didn't she tell me before," the Israeli said, with characteristic dryness.

Yet for Hughes, the future looks laced with uncertainty. Perhaps the greatest indictment on him and his team was that for the opening half-hour, they were in complete control. But they contrived to shoot themselves in both feet, surrender the initiative and invite the scorn and frustration of the home crowd.

It was alarming how quickly the tide turned once Dickson Etuhu had erred to present Cole with the equaliser. Hughes lamented his team's lack of cutting edge in attack where Andrew Johnson continues to feel his way back after serious injury.

Hughes reported that Bobby Zamora would not be back until mid-February at the earliest and although he hoped that Moussa Dembélé might return at the weekend, he accepted that he needed striking reinforcements next month. The problems up front were exacerbated by those at the back. Each of the three goals conceded were horror shows.

"The crowd's reaction was a little bit of frustration," Hughes said. "When you lose home games, they are well within their rights to vent frustration. Deep down, the vast majority understand the problems we have in terms of lack of cutting edge and what we are trying to do. It will take time."

West Ham climbed off the foot of the table to enjoy an early tonic in their battle to emulate West Bromwich Albion and survive after being bottom of the Premier League pile at Christmas. The prospect looked distant, to put it mildly, after the way they started here. They fell behind to an Aaron Hughes header and they would have gone 2-0 down if Johnson had accepted a clear-cut chance on 18 minutes from a driven Simon Davies cross. "If he'd have scored, we would have won comfortably," Hughes said.

Hughes's goal, after West Ham's defence had left him unmarked to nod past Robert Green, was his first since he scored for his former club Newcastle United in August 2004. It was tempting to say that if he was scoring then West Ham really had problems but, incredibly, they worked themselves into the lead by the interval.

First, Etuhu diverted Freddie Sears' cross into Cole's path for the equaliser and then Scott Parker's centre from the left by-passed Fulham's statuesque defenders and invited Piquionne to gobble up the volleyed opportunity at the far post.

West Ham bossed the second half, with Cole and Piquionne proving a handful for the Fulham backline. Cole went close on a couple of occasions and laid on a chance for Sears before he scored the clinching goal. It was another sharp and instinctive finish into the far corner, after Hughes had been pressured into a loose header, and was his sixth goal in five starts against Fulham.

Hughes's efforts to pep up his team in the 53rd minute, by introducing Eddie Johnson and Damien Duff for Etuhu and the popular Clint Dempsey, were met with derision. "You don't know what you're doing," chorused the home supporters who, by full-time, were yelling "Hughes out".

Andrew and Eddie Johnson drew smart saves out of Green in the second-half yet the latter stages were characterised by an absence of drama."Psychologically, it's good to be off the bottom," Grant said. "I hope this is the turning point."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner at Craven Cottage, for The Guardian on Sunday 26th December 2010 14.27 Europe/London

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