Gold backs Grant but Hammers fans sing a different tune

Liverpool 3 West Ham 0
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The Independent Football

The sight of a beleaguered manager and the sound of his club's supporters singing an old favourite's name is not exactly a novelty at Anfield this season. That he was in the away dugout may explain why Roy Hodgson expressed sympathy for Avram Grant's plight after the West Ham fans turned on their manager with chants of "Paolo Di Canio" and "You're getting sacked in the morning" during this hammering.

Hodgson has been a target himself during his first few months on Merseyside and believes the fickleness and impatience he frowned upon when working abroad have filtered into the English game. "Today you know what is coming – you are losing at half-time and you go in to jeers and catcalls, at full-time there are boos and the next day everyone is going to get sacked and every player is going to get thrown out."

But while Hodgson can point to an upturn in Liverpool's fortunes – his side are back in the top half and have lost just once in eight games – the jeers for the Premier League's bottom team were fully justified and Grant, who has overseen just one win in 14 matches, may be running out of time. Saturday's defeat at a ground where the Hammers have not won since 1963 was no surprise but it was the ease with which Liverpool dismissed opponents – sorely missing Scott Parker, absent with a chest infection – which led their fans to mock Grant.

West Ham's failure to turn draws against Birmingham, West Bromwich and Blackpool into wins came back to bite them and next Saturday's game with Wigan has a make-or-break look to it for the Israeli. He is struggling to inspire confidence in a squad whose morale has plummeted and arguably the biggest thing in Grant's favour is that West Ham's owners are desperate to avoid another change of manager six months after sacking Gianfranco Zola and handing him a four-year contract. Joint-chairman David Gold said: "We have to accept we are bottom of the league but there's no question of a change of manager now. But we must do better."

Hodgson, by contrast, was happy to reflect on a display that, in Steven Gerrard's absence, "stops people accusing us of being a one-man or a two-man team". Man of the match Glen Johnson got the first goal against his old team, an impressive low finish after controlling a corner on his chest, and provided the perfect response to his manager's recent suggestion he had not played like England's best right-back this term.

Liverpool had the match won by half-time with Dirk Kuyt converting a penalty after Danny Gabbidon's handball and Maxi Rodriguez profiting from slack marking to head in.

West Ham fielded three forwards – Victor Obinna and Frédéric Piquionne supporting Carlton Cole – but the biggest threat to Pepe Reina's goal was accidental, a Piquionne cross that dipped beneath the bar.

Scorers: Liverpool Johnson 18, Kuyt 27 (pen), Rodriguez 38

Substitutes: Liverpool Shelvey (Meireles, 83), Babel (Torres, 84), Aurelio (Ngog, 73). Unused Jones (gk), Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Eccleston. West Ham Tomkins (Ilunga, 76), McCarthy (Cole, 69), Barrera (Obinna, 46). Unused Stech (gk), Reid, Spector, Nouble.

Booked: West Ham Noble.

Man of the match Johnson Match rating 6/10

Possession Liverpool 62% West Ham 38%

Shots on target Liverpool 11 West Ham 1

Referee L Probert (Gloucestershire) Att 43,024

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