After a third successive Premier League defeat to leave West Ham three points above the relegation zone, Ben McAleer takes a closer look at the problems engulfing the London Stadium...
"Relegation would only add fuel to the toxic fire currently engulfing the London Stadium. Supporters were, and still are, unhappy at the stadium move and the dire form has done little to quell discontent"
The headline news from West Ham's 3-0 defeat to Burnley on Saturday was the fans protest in front of the directors box once Chris Wood had doubled the Clarets' advantage at the London Stadium. It was a match to mark the 25-year anniversary of Bobby Moore's passing, but will stick in the memory for all the wrong reasons.
However, the scenes off the pitch takes some of the focus off from what was a shambolic second half showing from the Hammers. Indeed, West Ham fell to pieces following Wood's introduction on the hour mark as they struggled to contain the New Zealand international, with the striker providing the assist for Ashley Barnes' sumptuous strike before adding a brace.
The manner of West Ham's capitulation is a concern, though. It could have been so different for the east London side had Manuel Lanzini put the hosts ahead in the opening 45 minutes, with the Argentine forcing Nick Pope into a smart stop when all inside the London Stadium thought he'd scored. That doesn't excuse West Ham from folding after the interval and leaves them in a perilous position in the Premier League table.
Relegation a very real possibility for Hammers
Southampton and Crystal Palace's respective defeats to Newcastle and Chelsea on Saturday eased the blow of the loss, with West Ham still three points above the relegation zone, but with eight games still to play, there is a very real possibility they will still go down. They're the fourth favourites at [3.30] to be relegated this season and with West Ham still to face Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City between now and the end of the campaign, it's impossible to rule them out of dropping down into the Championship.
Relegation would only add fuel to the toxic fire currently engulfing the London Stadium. Supporters were, and still are, unhappy at the stadium move and the dire form has done little to quell discontent. David Moyes wasn't the most inspiring of managerial appointments and despite the initial manager bounce, the Scot looks devoid of ideas as he strives to navigate the team away from the relegation zone. It could prove to be that Moyes relegates Sunderland and West Ham and still have a year left to run on the initial six-year contract he penned when he took over at Manchester United back in 2013.
An inability to string together a good run of form has left them lurching on the brink of disaster, with West Ham one of three teams, along with Stoke and Southampton, yet to win back-to-back Premier League games this season. They've conceded more goals (57) than any other Premier League team this term and the sixth most of all teams in the four tiers of English football, despite playing up to seven fewer games. Moyes isn't the man to guide the team out of this current rut and despite being promised ample funds to strengthen the squad if - and I stress IF - they stay up, it's feasibly possible West Ham will need to prepare for the Championship.
Domestic hiatus will benefit West Ham
And that would likely be the straw that broke the camel's back as far as fans are concerned. You can't blame the mutiny towards the board given the way the club is run nowadays, with 'Sack the Board' ringing out around the London Stadium once Barnes had fired Burnley ahead. Fortunately for all involved is that West Ham aren't involved in a Premier League game now until March 31st when allowing for the FA Cup quarter-finals next weekend and the subsequent international break. Moyes is taking the team away to Miami for a warm-weather training camp and by stepping out of the limelight, it gives him the chance to work with the squad without the pressure from closer to home, but it's a break they must maximise.
Their next game is a home meeting with relegation rivals Southampton, in a match that will go a long way to determining their respective top-flight futures. After Saturday's loss to Burnley, though, this is now a must-win match for West Ham.
At the time of writing, the Hammers are favourites [2.44] to secure the win over Saints at the London Stadium, and against a south coast side that has failed to win 11 of their last 12 away league matches, West Ham won't have a more accommodating opponent. They need to capitalise, though, or similar scenes to Saturday will be on show again and the prospect of relegation will begin to turn to a realisation.