The fact that West Ham lost at Old Trafford Saturday is surely no surprise, but what is interesting is that 5 of the clubs in the current bottom 6 have changed their managers already this season, with West Ham being the exception.
Boss Sam Allardyce clearly delivered two years back when the club got promotion to the Premier League (albeit via the play-offs). And the manager kept West Ham up last season too, which wasn't an easy task.
But this season has been a struggle, and Allardyce seems unable to get the best out of his players in the League, pointing to injuries and the long-term absence of Andy Carroll.
The Carroll situation, of course, is worrying. Big Sam has been quoted saying that his injuries are a fluke, and that medical professionals apparently advised that there was only a small chance that the injury-prone striker's problems would persist. But the fact that West Ham agreed to pay £15m (plus a fortune in wages) in the close season at all is a concern. Did you really need to rely on a medical assessment, when a look back at Carroll's history would surely suggest that signing him up was a bit of a gamble (especially when funds are scarce) in the first place ?
Now, should the worse come to the worst (and we clearly hope it won't), West Ham will undoubtedly have taken precautions and would in due course receive an insurance pay-out to compensate for the permanent loss of their key striker. But that's not the point - Carroll's injuries have had a profound impact on West Ham's season - hell, the team has had to play on many occasions without a recognised striker, and has scored less than a goal a game in the Premier League this term. Surely someone needs to take responsibility for this - it was a big decision to sign Carroll, and one can only hope that this decision would not have been made without the support of the manager.
Allardyce himself has acknowledged the pressure he is under, commenting this week: 'The only way that I can relieve pressure on myself is to get results', and although the West Ham boss still seems to have the backing of the club's owners, things need to pick up quickly. At least 7 points from their forthcoming games against fellow strugglers WBA, Fulham and Cardiff appear to be a must (forget the Arsenal game).
The last time West Ham under Messrs Sullivan and Gold got relegated (in 2011), the owners left it too late before sacking then manager Avram Grant, who was only given his marching orders after the club lost its Premier league status (after a defeat at the hands of Wigan). Many expect the owners to be quicker off the mark this season if the current on-field problems persist, so Allardyce needs to turn it around pronto.
And a replacement for big Sam if one is eventually required ? Ex-Assistant Manager (and available) Steve Clarke ? At least until the end of the season.
image: © Ben Sutherland