Pards: We need to stand up and be counted

A disappointing defeat against Wigan Athletic saw West Ham slide into 18th-spot in the Premiership. And before Alan Pardew's squad departed from the Upton Park dressing room, they were left under no illusions that they face a difficult and daunting December.

"Now's the time to stand up and be counted," insisted the Hammers' boss after glancing down a fixture list detailing tricky trips to Bolton Wanderers and Fulham and home encounters with Manchester United, Portsmouth and Manchester City.

"We just can't seem to get going this season and we find ourselves in a difficult position. The club's status is under threat and so is the status of the players as Premier League footballers. We are where we are and they had better realise that. Hopefully, when they get home and see the league table, the reality will sink in.

"December is a very important month for us and we've just had a good, long chat in the dressing room about the examination we're now going to get in the next two matches.

"Bolton and United will certainly be tough games and then we go into a run of games against teams who are around and about us in the table. We need to do well in those matches, there's absolutely no doubt about that and it'll be a test of our character to bounce back from this defeat.

"There haven't been too many displays this year where I've been left scratching my head but that just wasn't very good at all and, on behalf of the players, I'd like to apologise to the fans who paid good money to come here to see us play Wigan."

Certainly, apart from a couple of Marlon Harewood efforts and a Carlos Tevez woodwork rattler, the sell-out home crowd had little to cheer as David Cotterill's strike and Jonathan Spector's cruel own-goal following Leighton Baines's long-range effort got Wigan back to winning ways.

"We have to hold our hands up, we looked second best tonight and didn't put on a display worthy of ourselves," admitted Pards. "The turning point came when Carlos hit the post and they then went straight up the other end and took the lead but, overall, we certainly looked like we lacked belief at times and that's a worry.

"Wigan started particularly strongly and that knocked us back but we never really got into any rhythm because they were a strong, physical side and didn't give us any time on the ball. We didn't deal with things tonight and we neither got the result nor the performance.

"We aren't scoring goals and that's knocking our confidence and beginning to affect the whole team. It was an ugly performance in terms of our passing and we looked hesitant and doubtful as to what we're about, yet that was the one thing that we had previously managed to sustain, even through some bad results."

And with newly-installed Life Honorary President - Bjorgolfur 'BG' Gudmundsson watching alongside Chairman Eggert Magnusson, the outcome was even more disappointing for the Hammers' boss.

"That side put in a performance that wasn't like anything that we've put on in the past and, no, I wouldn't think that Mr Gudmundsson was very pleased to be honest," conceded Pards.

"Certainly, we wanted to give a display to cheer the home fans and get the right result but that wasn't the team that I put out for West Ham! We were nervous and apprehensive but we've now got to learn to live with that because the spotlight will always be on you while you're in the bottom three.

"We need to get some points on the board between now and when the window opens next month but I'm not even going to speak about transfers because that's irrelevant right now," he concluded before trotting off into the cold East End night to mull over his team selection for Saturday's crucial clash at the Reebok Stadium.

"If ever there's going to be an examination of our spirit and character then Bolton will provide it, so I've got to go away and put out a side that can cope with the physical way in which they play.

"After the performance against Wigan, I'm tempted to change things around. So far, I've been pretty loyal to my tried and trusted players but I've got to decide between now and Saturday whether I'm going to stay that way. After all, this is the time when I now need to see a reaction from my players."