The players not Grant to blame for West Ham’s terrible showing at Newcastle

Thrashing cannot be blamed completely on the boss

LAST night was West Ham’s worst defensive display this season and the players rather than Avram Grant should take the flack.

All five of Newcastle’s goals at St James’ Park were avoidable and down to individual errors.

Many will blame Grant, but can you argue with any of his selections last night?

Mark Noble was brought in for Junior Stanislas as the only change to a side which beat Wolves on Saturday and kept a clean sheet in the process.

From front to back the whole team defended badly. The forwards failed to hold the ball up, the midfield failed to control the game, the full backs failed to stop crosses and the centre backs failed to mark properly.

It was the same back four at the weekend and the difference in performance was quite remarkable.

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James Tomkins has arguably been the Hammers best player over the past month. It looked as though the errors which had marred his game in the past were behind him and the Academy Graduate was in the form of his life.

Last night it all went wrong. His poor header helped Newcastle score their first, while he could not clear properly for the third and was caught trying to play offside on his own for the fourth.

Of course Tomkins is just 21 and he will have off days and it would be no surprise if he is back to his best over the next few weeks.

Danny Gabbidon has been equally consistent, but his inability to stop Joey Barton last night was at the heart of Hammers’ problems.

When the Magpies visited Upton Park earlier in the season it was Barton’s deliveries into the box which destroyed West Ham.

You would have hoped the east Londoners would have learnt from this, but time and time again Barton was given freedom to put deliveries into the box and set up Toon’s fifth goal.

Of course Grant is not completely blameless. It is his team, with his philosophy, but he can only do so much.

He made the right substitutions at half-time, dragging off the completely ineffectual Frederic Piquionne and Radoslav Kovac, replacing them with Victor Obinna and Valon Behrami who did bring energy and enthusiasm, but their vigour can only do so much in a side which defended like West Ham did.

Frustrating as it sounds, it was just one of those freak performances last night and now is not the time to panic and blame the manager, it’s the players who let him and the fans down.