West Ham United face an uphill task to avoid being in the Premier League relegation zone going into the new year.
The Hammers – with just two wins from their last 13 matches – play high-flying Leicester City today.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side know defeat, and a draw for Aston Villa at Watford, will put them in the bottom three at the halfway stage.
Just three months ago West Ham were sat third in the Premier League table.
The Hammers were being widely praised and tipped for an assault on the European places.
Weak, meek mish-mash of mediocre
But the team’s lack of strength – mental, physical and in terms of squad depth – has seen Pellegrini’s weak, meek mish mash of average players drop like a stone.
West Ham have thrown away more points from winning positions than any other Premier League side.
Statistics say the team that takes the lead in the Premier League invariably goes on to win.
Not West Ham. Pellegrini’s side have surrendered 15 points when in the lead, the latest being the 2-1 reverse at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day – which was a carbon copy of the defeat to the Eagles at the London Stadium earlier this season.
Those points would see West Ham fourth in the Premier League right now.
The lost points: Hammers could be fourth
And on the coat tails of the likes of Leicester.
Instead West Ham’s legion of loyal fans are left continuously disappointed and embarrassed from one week to the next.
Michail Antonio crashing his Lamborghini supercar while dressed as a snowman on Christmas Day the latest round of ammunition for rivals fans to mock them (The Sun).
The lost points is yet another case or what might have been for West Ham.
In one of the most wide open Premier Leagues for many years, the Hammers look set to be embroiled in a relegation battle instead of making good on their early season promise to challenge for Europe.
Owners just as culpable as Pellegrini
Much of that is Pellegrini’s fault. But most of the blame sits at the door of owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
Their lack of ambition and the way they have run the club has dictated as much.
Victory over Leicester might lift the gloom temporarily.
But what is the plan at West Ham? Where is the team and club going? What is the philosophy? What is the recruitment methodology?
West Ham have no identity. They lost that when they left Upton Park.
And under Sullivan and Gold they may never rediscover it.