Sam slams set play setbacks

Sam Allardyce said West Ham United only had themselves to blame for their 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat by Southampton.

The Hammers took a first-half lead through Mark Noble's deflected effort before two set play goals from Morgan Schneiderlin allowed the Saints to turn the game on its head either side of half-time. Southampton frontman Graziano Pelle emphatically netted a third seven minutes from full-time to complete a deserved away win and an afternoon to forget for the home side.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam could not hide his disappointment and frustration at a performance that nobody of a Claret and Blue persuasion could have predicted.

"I think we were in a pretty confident [going into the game] and if that spilled into some over-confidence, I don't know," he began. "Tthe bottom line was under-performance from the team and if you don't perform to your best in the Barclays Premier League, you get punished.

"That was the big problem - lack of movement, lack of ball retention, simple passes going astray, the team not being patient and waiting to get into the opposition half and continually giving the ball back to them, so they could break and create more and more attacks against us.

"Our normal resilience in defensive areas from open play meant they initially didn't have any shots on target on our goal, but then we went on to concede from a set play. People could say we were unlucky because there was a great block in there, but our starting positions were all wrong and we only ran through them on the field on Friday at Upton Park. People weren't taking responsibility for taking the right starting position and it ultimately accumulated into them scoring just before half-time.

"While we weren't playing well, we could have come in at 1-0 and even at 1-1 I said to the lads 'If you don't start doing this then you will not get anything from this game'. I made a couple of substitutions to try to rectify at least getting possession of the ball and keeping it, but we didn't get too much better.

"We then conceded the second goal off a corner, which was just suicidal from our point of view. We haven't played well, but we could have battled and got a well-earned point when we hadn't deserved it because Southampton were better than us. To give it to Southampton off two set plays was massively disappointing, even though the second goal shouldn't have been a corner. I am 100 per cent certain it should have been a goal kick.

"Our switch-off time after the corner was awarded was really poor for their short corner. Players forgot they had to get out there and we paid a heavy price for that."

When asked if he could put his finger on why West Ham under-performed so markedly, the manager admitted there was more than one aspect of their display that left him perplexed.

"None of the players performed to their best, excepted Cheikh Kouyate who went about his job pretty well, but he had no help from the rest of his mates," he continued. "There wasn't enough energy, team commitment when the opposition had it or quality and movement when we had the ball.

"We needed to show some resilience, grit and determination to make sure Southampton didn't score, but we've gifted them two set play goals. If, with their good passing and movement, they had rapped one in the top corner like the third goal, then you can say they've played really well there. But when you don't do your job right from set pieces, you ulitimately pay a heavy price at this level.

"It's a real blow and hopefully a real wake-up call for the players for the fact that they cannot do anything but hit 100 per cent of their game every time they turn out in the Barclays Premier League, because that's what's needed from this squad to get a result."

One positive on an otherwise miserable afternoon was the unveiling of new signing Alex Song moments before kick-off. The Cameroon international has joined on a season-long loan from Barcelona and Big Sam expects the African to bring both quality and leadership to the Hammers ranks.

"I hope he adds some leadership, because he is a very experienced man who has played for Arsenal and Barcelona in the Champions League," said the manager. "We are so pleased that the the Co-Chairmen have worked so hard to get him into the squad.

"It should make us better so I hope he can get straight in there and inspire us to play more like we did against Crystal Palace and Tottenham and less like we did against Southampton.

"He is a massively talented player, but the others have to play their best to play with him and he will definitely add something to us.

"The big responsibility for us is that we need to support the players who have come to us from abroad and have fitted in quite well. We needed Carl Jenkinson, James Collins, Andy Carroll and Matt Jarvis back in the squad and, if all four were fit, probably all four would have played. Maybe that stood out, that we've been caught a little short of numbers at the moment."

Related stories

Hammers go for a Song

Hammers sunk at home by Saints