With Premier League survival achieved, West Ham went into their meeting with Liverpool with nothing to play for, except signing off their first season at the London Stadium with three points. With Liverpool looking to take a step closer to achieving Champions League football the difference in the level of motivation of both sides was evident from the first whistle.
In stark contrast to the Tottenham match, West Ham did little to press Liverpool in the key areas of the pitch, preferring to sit deeper, inviting their opponents to take the lion’s share of possession, which they gratefully did. Rather than looking solid and impenetrable the back line looked nervous, lacklustre and without purpose. Nordveit and Fernandes never threatened to reach the intensity and passion that we saw from Noble and Kouyate against Spurs. Indeed passion was missing across the team for the vast majority of the game. All too often, once dispossessed we showed little or no intent or interest to win the ball back.
Despite this, had Ayew managed to convert what will arguably be the miss of the season, the game could have looked very different at half time, with Liverpool failing to convert possession into good chances. It is almost impossible, at any level of football, to comprehend how a player can miss such an easy chance and yet in that one moment West Ham’s season was laid bare.
Much will be made of the penalty that wasn’t given, leading to a Liverpool counter-attack and another goal but in truth this was a very poor display by West Ham, exposing the lack of quality in our squad and posing yet more serious questions for the manager and the board to answer during the summer. This is not a team in need of strengthening in one or two positions, it requires a very serious overhaul.
Exposed by the lack of protection in front of them, the back three looked an altogether different proposition to the one which kept Kane and Son quiet for ninety minutes last week and yet, like a player playing for another contract, James Collins stood out on a very bad day, with his desire and passion for the shirt he wears. In game where you have conceded four goals, selecting a centre back as your man of the match may seem a strange choice and yet Collins epitomises the spirit that West Ham will need to recapture, across the squad, to progress from the disappointment of this season. The empty stands at the final whistle were in stark contrast to the final game at The Boleyn last season but perhaps the time has come not to dwell on the past but to move forward, investing the future of West Ham.