Behrami laments 'bad luck' as Hammers slide continues

Stoke City 2 West Ham United 1
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The Independent Football

The only consolation for West Ham fans is that things were at least this bad last season, "worse" if you believe their manager, Gianfranco Zola.

Then they had endured a run of just one win in 12 before turning their season round by winning 4-1 at Portsmouth, although they had at least begun the season by winning four of their first six games; Saturday's defeat at Stoke was their fifth in their first eight games ad leaves them second bottom.

"We have made a lot of little mistakes," said the midfielder Valon Behrami. "And, every mistake that we do, we have paid with one goal. That is a strange thing. Sometimes we make one mistake and they score but the other team will make three or four mistakes – but we don't score. And that is the difference. The Premier League is like this. We are just in an unlucky moment."

Well, maybe. Rumours rumble on – again – about a possible takeover, and for all the denials the uncertainty about the future of the club seems to be having a debilitating affect. West Ham are playing like a team short on confidence and, although they controlled possession for the middle hour on Saturday, they were indecisive and their threat was only vague. Their defeat, though, had less to do with a lot of little mistakes than one big one: the decision to pick Julien Faubert at right-back.

It is not, it should be said, his natural position, but he nonetheless had a nightmare. It was his panicky lunge that conceded the penalty from which James Beattie put Stoke ahead, and Beattie then capitalised on his hesitancy to stab in the winner after Rob Green had pushed out Ricardo Fuller's low drive. He should have capped a miserable day with a red card after an awful foul on Liam Lawrence in the final minute.

Faubert wasn't the only one who should have gone off. Robert Huth managed to swing an open hand into the face of Matthew Upson, who had headed West Ham's equaliser, without drawing the attention of the referee, Martin Atkinson. Tony Pulis, Stoke's manager, promised to review the video and take internal action if necessary.

Understandably, Pulis was keener to talk about his other centre-back, Ryan Shawcross, who had another excellent game, making one superb recovery challenge on Carlton Cole. "You have to understand how hard he works in training," he said. "He always stays behind and does extra work. He has good pace for a big lad. He needs to quicken his feet up on the ball sometimes because he will play against top, top players but he understands that.'

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth, Faye, Shawcross, Collins; Delap (Lawrence, 68), Diao (Whelan, 78), Whitehead, Etherington; Beattie (Kitson, 84), Fuller. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (g), Higginbotham, Tuncay, Wilkinson.

West Ham (4-3-2-1): Green; Faubert, Upson, Tomkins, Ilunga; Behrami, Kovac (Stanislas, 83), Collison (Franco, 89); Diamanti (Hines, 79), Noble; Cole. Substitutes not used: Kurucz (gk), Jimenez, Spector, Da Costa, Stanislas

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Stoke Diao, Shawcross, Whelan; West Ham Faubert, Cole, Hines.

Man of the match: Shawcross.

Attendance: 27,026.

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