Checks sport pages to make sure it wasn't all just a bad dream.
Wasn't a dream, unless you stood in the away end.
Still stunned. Even if the game had finished one nil I'd have felt the same way - dejected. Or maybe not. 1-0 you can just about stomach. Three goals conceded in the manner in which they unravelled (pun alert) was slap that will resonate for a few more days at the very least. West Ham supporters must have thought it was Christmas morning. I still can't wrap my head around the fact we were so abject when the game was set up perfectly for us to find that second gear. To test our resolve in breaking down a side that we all knew would make it difficult for us, with plenty of numbers at the back.
During the game, someone remarked that we were jabbing at the Hammers, like a boxer sizing up the opposition. Waiting for that moment where it was certain we'd land a hook or a uppercut. Continuing the boxing analogy, in the latter rounds, we slowed down our footwork. I guess the assumption being, we'd eventually find that way through and knock 'em out. Instead we got floored three times, TKO'ed by a rejuvenated opponent that worked out that fabled punch from us wasn't forthcoming.
Football is always dominated by questions and analysis that compares one match with another in an attempt to solve the puzzle that many of us create to explain why things might have gone wrong. But there is no need to over complicate things. The morning after the afternoon before and my opinion hasn't changed.
We got what we deserved.
You can't perform like that and expect to get away with it. If you do and you escape with a point, the disappointment might not be as humiliating as a 3-0 home loss but the performance is still going to be categorised with a 'WTF' label.
Those key areas we improved on seem to still be in a state of flux. Understandably, you could say Eriksen is still adapting. I said in an earlier article he'll find less space in games and he'll need to work out ways to escape the physicality that some opposing sides will bring. Our midfield wasn't dynamic at all, aside from Paulinho and his continued determined presence in the penalty box in an attempt to get on the end of something, anything. Pound for pound we should have danced around this lot and yet we're sat on our backsides counting cockerels.
The football wasn't fluid. Townsend was very good, crossed the ball in brilliantly at times. Defoe not at the end of most of them. When JD did have chances he didn't take them. But arguably we didn't create as many as we could have. Was that because of our inability to get an attacking groove going or West Ham's fortitude to defend deep and not allow us the good fortune of space? A bit of both. Not enough of the former.
Central midfield was busy with bodies and yet we attempted to find a way through it. Left wing was quiet. Defenders off the the pace.
It's a lull. Might be a one game blip. Probably is. We might not need the dramatic changes that many of us are calling for now, but then again it might do the squad some good and allow others to come into the fold. Say, Holtby for Eriksen as one example for change.
I've only got that cliché (I cited in the post-match write up) that when you get spanked like this, it's all about the next game and the way you react. Because if you win convincingly, then all the pain you feel right this moment disappears and you move on. Let's face it, we've had worst days. The reason this result grates so much is because it was so unexpected when expectations are so high. I'll stand by what I said a couple of days ago. Every game feels like a must win because we want to and know we can compete.
One important fact of Andre Villas-Boas tenure is that when we've come unstuck in the past (be it for one or two games), we've always come back stronger. We adapt and learn from defeats and mistakes. Might be there's an argument that we wouldn't be making mistakes if we played with adventure. However, it's not like we haven't done so this very same season with the very same players. Sunday was simply a day when nobody bothered to turn up and those that did couldn't muster enough to make a difference.
I still want us to be braver, more expansive and expressive in home games. Loosen the shackles of our methodical preparation and deliberate movement and give it some of that grand olde swagger. Then, two goals to the good (in my theoretical match) we can close up shop and return to the more considered, patient approach.
I get what AVB is doing. Look at all his games and not just one and you'll see a vast improvement in how we work as a team, a unit. I asked the question, when do we expect the settling to be complete and the football to step up a notch?
10 games in? 20?
It can't step up a notch unless we sharpen up the areas that are in desperate need for some attention. We can't wing it with the single winger.
Regardless of your expectations, the next game is the one that will either pose more head scratching or cleanse us of this horrific day at the office.