Alan Pardew was left under few illusions that guiding West Ham back into the Premiership at first time of asking will be no formality after his side spectacularly imploded to lose 4-3 at home to West Bromwich Albion after leading 3-0.
Pardew, who has yet to record a win since taking over as manager last month, said after Saturday's defeat: "This was a test of character and we need to bounce back. Certain players will need to work hard in training and be on time.
"I certainly won't get myself in a position where I lose faith in my ability or what I can give this team. They either come with me or I will get rid of them."
Two goals from Brian Deane on his home debut and an early strike by Jermain Defoe seemed to have wrapped up the game for West Ham inside the first 18 minutes. But Rob Hulse scored twice to make it 3-2 at half-time, Defoe was sent off for a late tackle on Sean Gregan, before a Deane own goal and Lee Hughes' 77th-minute winner saw Hammers fans streaming for the exits.
"Perhaps I'm from a different culture but I expected some of our senior players to show more than that after we had a youngster sent off," Pardew added ominously. "This game will be a reference point. I know what I want to see as a reaction."
Victory took Albion one point clear at the top of the table after previous leaders Wigan Athletic lost 1-0 at Reading, Pardew's former club. The Baggies' manager, Gary Megson, was left to reflect on a mixed afternoon. "I've never seen a team of mine start as pathetically as we did for the first 20 minutes," he admitted. "It was schoolboy defending. We couldn't win an argument in the first 20 minutes, but the work-rate, endeavour and honesty after that were incredible, especially away from home."
A 1-1 draw at home to Walsall was not enough to save Nicky Law's job as Bradford City manager, the Bantams wielding the axe with his side second-bottom of the division. Ironically, just before being summoned to the boardroom, Law had told reporters: "At the end of the day, the chairman has shown faith in me and not made any rash decisions." Bradford hope to appoint a replacement before their next game, away to Stoke City, a week on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Ipswich came from 2-0 down to snatch a point at Derby, who slip into the bottom three, two Ian Henderson goals helped Norwich see off Millwall 3-1 and lifted the Canaries into third, while Robert Earnshaw also scored twice to made it 20 goals for the season as Cardiff City beat Stoke 3-1.Reuse content