Gianfranco Zola remained as mystified as everyone else inside the Boleyn Ground as to how West Ham United failed to take anything from the Barclays Premier League match with Everton.
After 90 minutes of a game that West Ham United dominated, somehow it was visitors Everton who finished 2-1 winners on Sunday afternoon, ending the Hammers' three-match unbeaten run in the process. Louis Saha made the most of Everton's sole chance of the first half before Dan Gosling doubled the lead in the second. The Hammers responded almost immediately, and hit back through a Tony Hibbert own goal before late pressure saw a host of chances come and go.
"It is very difficult for me to comment about a game like that," Zola said. "We had so many chances and they had only two. That is a big question mark for me because how can we lose a game like that?
"The players gave everything. Their attitude and their commitment was very good and I can't say anything about that. We have to find out why [we didn't do better] as it is not doing us any favours."
Although the result will have frustrated the manager, the effort and application of his players certainly did not. Junior Stanislas and Alessandro Diamanti were in sparkling form off the bench while Manuel Da Costa was once again impressive. Zola will be using that positive ahead of the trip to Hull City on Saturday week, when it is hoped Carlton Cole will be fit to return. Jack Collison limped off at half-time on Sunday and is a doubt for international duty with Wales.
"We started very well and had a couple of chances and couldn't convert them. They had only one shot in the first half but what can you do? We will have to have even more desire.
"When I look into things right now all I can see is that they tried until the end. Physically we were very good but we need to improve a little bit and we are going to work at that. That is the most important thing."
With the international break now, Zola will have to spend the next seven days only working with those players not going away with their countries - a period of time he plans to use to the full. When asked what areas he would be working on, he was understandably keeping his cards close to his chest. "I would like to discuss those problems with my players first and with my staff rather than talking with the press because we have to analyse them first and find solutions."
Diamanti was introduced as a substitute 12 minutes into the second half and once again caught the eye with some incisive passing and thunderous shooting.
"When he came on he had a very good impact like Zavon Hines did the other day [against Aston Villa]. I know when he comes in he is effective and that's why I prefer him to start later," said the manager in response to a query about the Italian's claims for a starting berth.
The result leaves West Ham at the wrong end of the Premier League table, but with the trip to Hull up next, followed by a home game with Burnley, Zola sees opportunities ahead. Similarly, the club have more than held their own against six of last season's top eight in the first half-dozen league matches at home.
"[The position] feels bad and it is not very pleasant, but the team is fighting. Yes we are making mistakes but we are fighting and they want to change things and that is the most important thing.
"I am not worried as we can improve the situation. I am disappointed because they deserved something more than that. I am concerned as is everyone around West Ham but we are going to fight until the end and find the solutions as quick as possible.
Confidence is key according to Zola and he is resolute that his players continue to believe in themselves.
"I am confident and I have asked the players to believe they are the best in the Premier League for me. We are determined to make things different.
"This team is good enough to stay up. All of us including myself and my staff will have to look at ways of solving these problems. A team that plays as well as us will get more points. There are a lot of things to work on and we are going to be doing that."
With Cole missing though injury, Hines stepped into the starting XI and was his usual lively self. He was on the end of a number of chances and the 20-year-old was unlucky not to register with any. His pace and movement certainly tested the Everton back line, even if there was no goal to go with his endeavour. Although the side had to do without the presence of their top scorer, Zola was not prepared to make any excuses.
"Carlton Cole is a big player for us but it is something we have to cope with. The other day we did very well without him but we couldn't do the same but we know that Carlton is a big asset. [Carlton isn't] too bad and fingers crossed he should be ready for the next game."
Cole's potential return from his hamstring injury would provide a boost in the run up to what is now a vital game at the KC Stadium, with Hull one point and one place ahead of the Hammers in the table. "It is a big game. Hull won so will be full of confidence. It was always going to be a tough match but we are prepared for that."