The Manager on Monday: 'Fans deserve better'

It simply has to be a tale of two Cities when West Ham United head to St Andrews on Saturday.

Following the opening day defeat against Manchester City, Alan Curbishley insists that his side cannot afford a repeat performance at Birmingham City.

"We've left everyone flat," observed a dejected Curbs after seeing Rolando Bianchi and Geovanni get Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign off to a winning start.

"The fans deserve better than that and we certainly can't carry on like this. It's a massive disappointment to say the least and now we've got to go and play a lot better at Birmingham.

"Unfortunately, we didn't show any of the things that we've been working upon in pre-season and we looked laboured and tentative and didn't put Manchester City under any pressure.

"It's certainly given us something to think about. When I looked at the statistics after our pre-season win at Norwich City 11 days ago, they were the second best since I've been at the Club but we started off poorly and just got worse as the game went on.

"Robert Green was the only one who came out with any real credit and the rest of the players have got to look at themselves because we just couldn't string two or three passes together.

"While Manchester City started off well, we had nothing there. They came here with one or two players whom we weren't too sure about but, having said that, we still knew the shape and system that they would play.

"They started much better, their passing was miles in front of ours and they were more dangerous than us, too.

"City got their goal during the first 20 minutes and, after that, we were just chasing the game which was very difficult for us. We needed a bit of a lift but we just couldn't drag one up from anywhere.

"After making a couple of changes at half-time, I felt that we looked like we were going to get something during the first 15 minutes of the second half. I apologised to one or two for playing them out of position but we really needed to do that to try and get back into the game.

"In the end, though, it just wasn't to be and it proved to be a classic away game from City's viewpoint. They scored within 20 minutes and, after never looking like we would ever break them down, they hit us on the break to finish it all off comfortably.

"Sven can be pleased with his start back in the Premier League," concluded Curbs clearly hoping that he can now bring some smiles back to the East End at the second attempt. "The crowd were at full throttle but it turned out to be a massively disappointing game for the players, the fans and everybody connected with the club.

"It's only come after our first game, though, and now we've just got to get on with it and look forward to putting things right next week."