Beleaguered Sam Allardyce described his plight as a “total disaster” after Nottingham Forest put his position as West Ham manager in still greater jeopardy by knocking his side out of the FA Cup by an emphatic margin that could have been even more embarrassing had the Championship side been more proficient in front of goal.
Next to bottom of the Premier League after one win in 13 matches and facing a Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City this week with seven senior players injured and captain Kevin Nolan suspended, Allardyce fielded a starting XI so short of experience that a trouncing was almost inevitable.
Only striker Modibo Maïga and midfielder Alou Diarra, who played in central defence, were retained from the side that started in the defeat at Fulham on New Year’s Day.
Three of the players who began yesterday’s game – Danny Whitehead, Seb Lletget and Callum Driver – were making their debuts, and another, George Moncur, his first start. The seven substitutes named did not have a single senior start between them and by the end of the match the back four on the field contained three debutants, including Reece Burke – a second-half substitute for Diarra at centre-half – who is only 17.
“It’s a total disaster for me at the moment,” Allardyce said, admitting he was unsure what repercussions the result might have for his future as manager. “My hands are tied behind my back as I see what players are available. The team is more or less picking itself. In certain areas, particularly central defence, where all our senior players are missing, we’ve not been able to cope.
“I would have liked to play maybe only three or four of the younger players. But there were too many out there and we were overrun. I had to make changes because you know what my priorities are – the Premier League first and then the Capital One Cup.
“It’s leg one against Manchester City on Wednesday and we need to get back to the second leg with an opportunity to get to Wembley, and then get some points at Cardiff next Saturday.”
That made it no more palatable for the 3,000 West Ham supporters who had travelled north for the noon kick-off. Many left early, leaving those who remained to chant the name of Paolo Di Canio as the man they would like to see take Allardyce’s place.
“It might have repercussions for me, who knows?” Allardyce said. “It’s a decision for the club, not me. I made the directors aware of what would happen today and they were fine with me making the changes. I don’t go about my business without telling people internally what will happen in the next few games.
“But I’m not saying there won’t be repercussions unless I start to get results. I’ve got to get results, I know that.”
Forest were in front after 12 minutes following a penalty that might have been a talking point had the afternoon unfolded differently. Algerian winger Djamel Abdoun – without a previous goal for Forest – defied nominated penalty taker Henri Lansbury by insisting on taking the kick after Jamie Paterson had been brought down.
He then decided he would dink the ball rather than go for power or placement against goalkeeper Adrian and it was fortunate for him that the episode did not end in embarrassment.
West Ham survived at 1-0 down until the 65th minute, even forcing Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow to make three good saves in what was until then a relatively even contest. But they collapsed once Paterson scored his first goal, firing in off a post after Greg Halford had won the ball in the air.
Paterson went on to complete a hat-trick in 14 minutes before Andy Reid celebrated his new two-and-a-half year contract by firing in the fifth. Yet Forest could have more than doubled the score, with Lansbury, Paterson and substitute Simon Cox all missing clear chances, and Adrian making saves from Cox, Halford and defender Eric Lichaj.
Forest manager Billy Davies said he sympathised with Allardyce but felt his side were due credit for their performance, which earned them a home tie against Ipswich or Preston in round four.
“The importance for Sam is to stay in the Premier League but they had £20 million worth of talent in the front four and they came to win the match,” he said.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Darlow 7/10; Jara 7, Lascelles 7, Hobbs 6, Lichaj 7; Lansbury 6, Moussi 6, Reid 7; Abdoun 6, Halford 6, Paterson 8.
Substitutes: Harding 6 (Lichaj 57), Cox (Halford 74), Derbyshire (Paterson 83).
Substitutes not used: Mackie, Miller, Evtimov (gk), Majewski. .
West Ham United (3-5-2): Adrian 7; Driver 5, Diarra 6, Potts 6; Jarvis 5, Lletget 5, Whitehead 6, Morrison 6, Downing 5; Moncur 6, Maiga 6.
Substitutes: Burke 6 (Diarra 55), Fanimo 5 (Moncur 55), Turgott 5 (Downing 64),
Substitutes not used: Spiegel (gk), Lee, Maguire, Gordon.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Bookings: Forest: Derbyshire. West Ham: Lletget.
Man of the match: Paterson.
Match rating: 6/10.
- More about:
- West Ham United