David Moyes has admitted he is under pressure at West Ham following their 2-0 home defeat by Brentford.
Goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva inflicted another damaging defeat on Moyes, whose side have lost five successive Premier League games.
Moyes insisted last week that the Hammers were not in relegation trouble but face the very real prospect of being in the bottom three on New Year’s Day.
Incredibly, the Scotsman said: “We played really well tonight”, before the topic of a relegation battle was raised.
“I hope that’s not the case,” he added. “But we’ve lost some at home recently, so we have to be aware that we need to pick up points.
“I don’t think it’s unfair. In the business we operate in if you don’t win in five games you will be under pressure.
“I just want the best for West Ham, they’ve been a great club for me and we’ve done well. I am determined to keep it there and not let it drag me down. I hope we can get away from where we are.”
It could have been a very different night if Declan Rice had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but his 20-yard curler hit the post.
Instead, Brentford took the lead when Christian Norgaard’s volley was saved by Lukasz Fabianski and Toney snatched the rebound for his 13th goal of the season.
They doubled their lead when Toney bowled a throw-in for Dasilva to chase.
The midfielder passed Aaron Cresswell, who had a three-yard lead, before burying his shot past Fabianski.
Yet Moyes, who spent £160m on a string of failed new signings like Lukas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca last summer, said: “Tonight I have nothing but praise for the players. nothing else.
“Their effort, effort, how they did their job, how they continued to go down 2-0. For me it’s just praise.
“Of course, we know where we’re falling short, in the last third and we’ve just started to lose a bit defensively.”
Brentford’s win was soured by a late injury to Toney, who broke his knee after landing awkwardly and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
“Ivan isn’t likely to be ousted for just one blow, so it’s a bit worrying,” said manager Thomas Frank, whose side host Liverpool on Monday.
“It could be nothing, it could be worse, we don’t know. It’s never a good sign, but we don’t know.”
Brentford, now up to ninth, have something of a curse on West Ham after beating them twice last season.
“It’s a fantastic away win,” added Frank. “Sometimes it just clicks against a few opponents, but for Brentford to win three times against West Ham is incredible.”