Football: Not at the races? A stewards' inquiry would have been a more appropriate analogy at The Dell

It seldom occurs to football supporters that managers cannot be held entirely responsible for the team's performance. "We weren't at the races today," Harry Redknapp said, unable to explain West Ham's serious loss of momentum.

Important victories to encourage the prospect of survival, then this. Not just a 2-0 defeat at The Dell that saw Southampton climb a place above, but so little resolve that Redknapp's mournful expression was understandable. Not at the races? Coming from that direction, a stewards' inquiry would have been a more appropriate analogy.

Of course, the inspirational Julian Dicks is a big loss but it was West Ham's general lethargy that led to the blistering of ears in their dressing- room. Reminders about individual responsibility were high on Redknapp's agenda.

The introduction of Iain Dowie and Hugo Porfirio at half-time helped to bring about an improvement but until then West Ham were awful. Outplayed in midfield, where Eyal Berkovitch and Jim Magilton made light of being outnumbered, their defenders looked in need of an introduction. On top of everything else, Ludek Miklosko began as though he had Dracula's aversion to crosses.

The men on Southampton's bench looked on this with pleasure and astonishment. As one of Graeme Souness's assistants said afterwards, they could not believe what they were seeing.

Nobody took better advantage of the situation than Berkovitch, who saw a great deal more of the ball than he gets when Matthew Le Tissier is playing. Another bonus in Le Tissier's absence through injury was the form of Micky Evans who was picked up recently from Plymouth. "Micky's enthusiasm was the thing that appealed to me when I watched him," Souness said, "but he has enough ability to make it in the Premier League."

First, Southampton have to stay there and Evans showed he can make a big contribution to that possibility with a courageous scoring header in the 13th minute, colliding with the far post when meeting a centre from Robbie Slater.

Having one of those days, Miklosko's sloppy clearance had led to the goal so it surprised most people present when he then saved a Jim Magilton penalty.

West Ham made so many mistakes, individual and collective that you began to wonder what was going on out there. When Claus Lundekvam was allowed to bring the ball forward fifty yards to set up a goal for Berkovitch suggestions ranged from daft to downright slanderous.

Souness felt that Southampton had performed as well as at any time since he has been with them. "We've played a lot of good football this season, but let ourselves down with poor defending," he said. "Today we had it together. You can say West Ham didn't play up to their potential but I think that had something to do with the way we went about things.

"A couple of weeks ago things looked pretty bleak but now we have a much better chance and looking at the fixtures [Coventry are at The Dell next Saturday] we could be able to control our own destiny."

A thought about players in struggling teams is why they leave it so late to put in big effort. Why should April be any different to October?

In fantasy, footballers are running around with wires sticking out of their skulls, coaches manipulating from master panels. In truth it comes down to honest endeavour and application of whatever skill is available. When Redknapp confronts his players again this week it will be as simple as that. As basic as a heartbeat which is what West Ham lacked on Saturday.

Goals: Evans (13) 1-0; Berkovitch (36) 2-0.

Southampton: (5-2-1-2) Taylor; Van Gobbel, Dodd, Lundekvam, Benali, Slater; Magilton, Berkovitch (Neilsen, 72); Oakley (Dryden, 54); Evans, Ostenstad. Substitutes not used: Maddison, Basham, Beasant (gk).

West Ham United: (5-3-2) Miklosko; Potts, Bilic, Hall, Reiper (Dowie, 45), Rowlands (Lazaridis, 79); Lomas, Bishop (Porfirio, 45), Hughes; Kitson, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Mann, Sealey (gk). Referee: S W Dunn (Bristol)

Bookings: Southampton: Evans. West Ham: Bilic, Hughes, Kitson. Sending- off: Southampton: Dodd (44).

Man of the match: Evans. Attendance: 15,244.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser