Manuel Pellegrini admitted his West Ham United team were second best to Everton all over the pitch in Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at London Stadium.
The Hammers had the opportunity to not only open up a five-point gap on the Blues with victory, but also leapfrog Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford into seventh position after both teams lost earlier in the day.
However, a sub-par performance and first-half goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard condemned the Irons to their first home loss of 2019 and saw them miss another chance to climb the table, leaving manager Pellegrini frustrated.
Not only the first half, but the entire game, we were second best
“It was very disappointing because I think that, without a doubt, that was our worst performance of the year,” reflected the Chilean, whose team created just three goal attempts and failed to force Jordan Pickford into a meaningful save.
“You can win, or you can lose, but not in the way we did today, without fighting and without creating a chance at the opposition goal.
“Not only the first half, but the entire game, we were second best. What is worrying is that we had another opportunity to go to the seventh position, Everton were two points behind us, so we had the opportunity to grow that gap to five points and Wolverhampton and Watford lost before we started the game, so it was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we could be in another position in the table.
“It was not the first time that happened, so that’s why I’m worried about that. It was impossible for us to make two passes in a row.”
Pellegrini made enforced changes to his starting eleven, with Mark Noble dealing with a personal issue and Felipe Anderson suffering an ankle injury in training, while Marko Arnautovic was forced off in the second half with a knee problem.
However, the manager was not willing to blame their absences for his team’s struggles, instead stating that every player in a Claret shirt had not reached the required level.
“I think, if you review the performance, the first half and the second half were exactly the same, so it doesn’t matter the names [who played and those who did not] or if we changed two players [at half-time] because they were all making mistakes, especially in defending in the first 15 minutes," Pellegrini continued. “In attacking areas, we prepared a lot of movements, but we didn’t do them.
“We are conceding too many goals from set pieces. The first one, we just didn’t jump for that ball. You can concede a goal inside five minutes and still change the face of the game and create chances, but we didn’t do it and all the players had a bad day.
“Marko has played a lot of games with a pain in his knee and also in the international game he played with Austria he received a blow in the same knee, so maybe he was not 100 per cent."