'We will come out fighting'

Sam Allardyce says he and his West Ham United team will 'come out fighting' in Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture at Cardiff City.

The West Ham United manager and his squad have endured a difficult week, being knocked out of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest on Sunday before going down to a 6-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday evening.

As they have done all season, the Barclays Premier League leaders were in irresistible form on home soil, scoring three goals in each half to take their tally to an amazing 61 in just 15 matches at the Etihad Stadium in 2013/14.

Alvaro Negredo grabbed a hat-trick, Edin Dzeko scored twice and Yaya Toure once as Manuel Pellegrini's side hit top gear on a miserable night - both in terms of the result and the weather, with incessant rain pouring down throughout the tie.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam admitted City had just been too good, despite the efforts of his injury-ravaged side.

"Many teams have come here, like us, and suffered a painful time, including those who are better than we are," said the manager. "It's hard to take and difficult to accept but the facts are that Manchester City are the best team in the league at home and have been the best team in the league since the start of the season.

"In the end, I think that we've all seen why, live against us. We all knew they were very, very good and we've seen it live tonight because our players tried as hard as they could, but couldn't get near these Manchester City players. Their quality is top-drawer and they are great finishers, never mind top footballers."

West Ham started the game well, forcing a succession of early corners, but were unable to create anything from a set piece.

After 12 minutes, City went ahead with a goal of stunning quality and simplicity as Negredo volleyed Yaya Toure's 50-yard pass into the bottom corner. From then on, the home side got better and better.

"They are a very good side but we wanted to come here, having played so well and fought so hard to get to the semi-final, in a much better situation.

"We're having to manage the situation, which is getting ever more difficult because our results are going worse and our injuries are not getting back to fitness as quick as they can.

"We lost Joey O'Brien tonight, which is disappointing for us, because again it's in a defensive area. That's why we have conceded so many goals. A full-back playing as a centre-half against Dzeko and Negredo is not an easy job.

"Joey and George tried to do their best, but to try to stop those players is difficult for an experienced Premier League centre-half, let alone a full-back.

"They carved us apart for the first goal because Yaya Toure is a brilliant long passer and the run from Negredo and the finish were outstanding. That is one of the best goals Man City scored tonight.

"A goal of that outstanding quality saw Yaya Toure pass the ball through nine of our players and Negredo hit a left-foot volley over his shoulder first-time, not even looking at the goal, and it's in the back of the net. That's just world-class."

While the final scoreline may have been bitterly disappointing for everyone connected with the Club, there were two major positives to take from an otherwise horrible evening.

First, the Claret and Blue Army never stopped singing in the rain. Second, goalkeeper Adrian produced another string of outstanding saves to add to those he made at the City Ground on Sunday.

"Adrian was brilliant tonight and he's growing stronger. He's gaining great experience, even if he is bitterly disappointed about Sunday and Wednesday. He played well on Sunday but he played even better on Wednesday.

"What we have to do is get our defenders back in the team defending like we know we can, as a team, better. We have got to improve our clean-sheet ratio as quickly as possible and once we start doing that, we'll start winning more points and hopefully more games."

Looking forward, West Ham hit the road again on Saturday, when they visit the Welsh capital for a Barclays Premier League fixture.

Big Sam has challenged his players and staff to take the criticism they have received and use it as an inspiration to score an important victory over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Bluebirds.

"They can't feel sorry for themselves. We are professionals and we've got to take the criticism thrown at us because that's what happens in the game at this level. We've got to be man enough to take it on the chin and be determined enough to show people what they think at this particular moment in time is wrong.

"You either come out fighting or you sink and die - I come out fighting as a manager and my staff and players are the same. We've got to get out there, face the music and use it to anger us, if you like, make us mad, prove them wrong and win football matches."