West Ham United were going to be in the hat for tonight’s FA Cup fifth round draw boosted by Marko Arnautovic committing his future to the club.

That was the understandable view of West Ham’s media team as they plotted their web and social media activity for the weekend.

Playing a team 58 places below them in the football pyramid West Ham were huge favourites.

The Hammers even had a 3-1 win over the same team at the same venue to call on from as recently as August.

What could go wrong? Well pretty much everything.

West Ham put on one of the most pathetic performances in recent memory to lose 4-2 to the League One basement boys thus extending their trophy-less run to 40 years.

Photo by Warren Little Getty Images

Adding fuel to the fire: A very West Ham PR own goal

As if Hammers fans were not angry enough on Saturday night West Ham scored a disastrous PR own goal of their own to enrage them further.

The club had a video from the previously wantaway Arnautovic cued up to go live after the game.

The video saw the Austrian explain why he considered leaving the club and why he had missed the last two games.

That was accompanied by a statement from the club revealing he had signed a new – and obviously financially improved – contract (whufc.com).

For West Ham fans it was like pouring petrol on the fire.

Photo by Avril Husband West Ham United via Getty Images

Unjustified arrogance

The backlash was strong. And utterly inevitable.

 

So inevitable in fact you have to question who in their right mind would choose such a time to release the announcements.

Or indeed why the club did not pull the plug until the following day at least.

There was an element of arrogance about it.

An arrogance that was evident in the approach of many of the players, particularly in that dismal first half.

A hugely misplaced and unjustified arrogance at that.

Photo by Mark Robinson Getty Images

This will sting for some time

Hammers fans can take losing. They are well used to it. But they do not like being embarrassed.

And that is exactly what West Ham did on and off the pitch on Saturday. Not only with their performance but the way they handled the climax to the Arnautovic saga too.

Football is a cynical game nowadays and moderns fans are often accused of being fickle.

Undoubtedly a few goals from Arnautovic will win some supporters over.

But West Ham must tread carefully with their supporters over the coming months because this one stings.

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