Sam shocked by Stoke loss

Manager Sam Allardyce admitted to being taken aback by West Ham United's 1-0 home Barclays Premier League defeat by Stoke City on Saturday.

The Hammers were second best to the Potters at the Boleyn Ground and were left with nothing to show for their efforts when substitute Jermaine Pennant curled a disputed free-kick past Jussi Jaaskelainen with just eight minutes to play.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam was not impressed with his team's display in losing their first home game since February.

What is your reaction to a rare bad day at the Boleyn Ground?

SA: "Well it's a real shock to me and I think everybody who came to watch the game will be as shocked as I am because we obviously were looking forward to this home game after how far we've come in a short period of time.

"Certainly after the week when we beat Cardiff and were disappointed not to win at Newcastle where we were the better side, to see a performance that is the complete opposite to what we normally are [was disappointing].

"Stoke go away with the three points and there's not a lot of arguing I could do against that because we just didn't get to the level we know we can. Because we didn't do that, we didn't put Stoke City under any real pressure.

"In the end, they scored after a sloppy bit of play by ourselves giving the ball away in our own half and then giving the free-kick away. Obviously, the technical part of Jermaine Pennant's free-kick was superb, but we should never have let ourselves get into that position.

"Instead of digging it out and, despite being decidedly average, come out with a nil-nil, we've ended up losing the game."

Can you put your finger on why we didn't perform to the same level we have done at home so consistently in recent months?

SA: "No, not really. I'll have to have a think about that for a while and review the game again but what I can say is that when you have a player performing to his normal best, we had the team rally round him, but when you get so many who don't play how we know they can like they did today [it's difficult].

"I have to give the back four a lot of credit because they are really void of any criticism. For all the game, they defended with great spirit because Stoke had the majority of the possession and put us under more pressure than we did them.

"It's disappointing from our front-six point of view and what they didn't create, but from a back-four and goalkeeper point of view, they nearly mastered their way through to another clean sheet and a point for us, which would have been very precious. Unfortunately, they got the blow with that free-kick at the end.

"In creative terms, our players who do create didn't, and that's why we had such a lacklustre performance."

Presumably the international break will give you the time to get the likes of Andy Carroll (heel), Joe Cole (hamstring) and Joey O'Brien (managing his knee following historic injuries) up to speed ahead of the trip to Southampton on Sunday 15 September?

SA: "When we finished Newcastle away we were in a perfectly good position because we were going to make sure that the players who played could have a rest against Cheltenham. It also meant we could play some of the players who were sitting on the bench or who had been left out of squad in our first two games, and some of the younger end like Leo Chambers.

"It was a thoroughly good game and a really good result for us, apart from the fact Alou Diarra crushed his cruciate ligament which finishes this season.

"George McCartney making his comeback after a long time out with a serious injury was pleasing, but then on Thursday Ricardo Vaz Te said he is not happy and wants to leave, Joe Cole got injured on Friday morning and we lost on Saturday. It shows you how quickly things can change.

"I was very happy last weekend and now I'm as miserable as sin."

Finally, the transfer window closes on Monday night. Can we expect much activity?

SA: "I keep telling everybody that, budget-wise, we've come to an end and we roll with what we've got unless something happens going out.

"One thing is for sure - at this late stage we have 48 hours and there is probably enough time to complete the process of bringing somebody in on its own. The transition of one out and one in, the timing has to be perfect because the player we're allowing to go out cannot go before the player we're bringing in has signed.

"If the player goes out and he's gone, he's gone. If the one coming in changes his mind or someone else rings him up and offers more money, then we're absolutely finished so we cannot allow that to happen.

"That's why I think it'll be very difficult to bring someone in, but we'll always have a look and if someone wants to buy one of our players for the right fee and they want to go - for example, Vaz Te at the moment who has decided he wants to leave - we'll have some funds to bring someone else in.

"We have a list of targets but more loan players than permanent deals at this stage. It's not difficult to bring a player in if you have funds, but it's difficult to bring the right player in. That's the ultimate test for us - if we bring one in at this stage, are we bringing him in because the window is closing when deep down we know he's not quite good enough? I saw a lot of that happening at this stage, but we want to avoid that if we can.

"If there is a top player who wants to come and join us, then that would be very good."