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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Kassam Stadium
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini took obligation as his side have been bundled from their Carabao Cup in humiliating manner by League One Oxford United.
The Hammers arrived in the Kassam Stadium on the back of an outstanding win over Manchester United to achieve the heights of fifth in the Premier League, however, Karl Robinson’s side superbly outplayed and over-powered their illustrious competitors, who ended a complete shambles.
Oxford, now 12th in League One, were high on optimism after a record-breaking 6-0 triumph at Lincoln City in the weekend and this was a famous and richly merited triumph.
“The team did not play well. Did we concede four goals, but we didn’t create too many chances,” Pellegrini said.
“We missed too many moves from the beginning and the obligation is first on me since I chose the players, and also second on the staff which didn’t compete.
“It’s simple to say we played very badly, however Oxford did everything they had to win this game. They played with a great deal of motivation, together with appetite and we did not play nicely.”
Both sides much-changed sides and the only surprise was West Ham before withdrawing after 55 minutes when central defender Elliott Moore shot across Roberto, really endured for so long.
Oxford, who missed clear chances in the first half by Cameron Brannagan and Anthony Forde, almost increased their lead instantly as Roberto saved brilliantly from Jamie Mackie.
But there was no escape for West Ham as replacement Matty Taylor switched into Mark Sykes’ cross.
Substitute Tariqe Fosu, a hat-trick enthusiast in Lincoln City, raced clear from the halfway line to score with amazing composure after 84 minutes to extinguish any hopes of a West Ham comeback.
The agony was not over for West Ham boss Pellegrini along with his abject side as Shandon Baptiste deservedly capped a man-of-the-match showing having a fourth.
Oxford sponsor fellow League One side Sunderland, who won 1-0 at Sheffield United, at the fourth round in the week commencing 28 October.
“Looking at the scoreboard – 4-0 from West Ham and a very powerful West Ham – that will go down as one of the greatest results in the Kassam in the last several decades,” Oxford manager Robinson explained.
The EFL Cup represented a realistic prospect for West Ham to win a trophy, but Pellegrini lacked this jolt by making nine adjustments, leaving danger guys Sebastien Haller along with Felipe Anderson.
He reduced the price as the Hammers produced a distressed display, much to the aggravation of those fans who packed a single corner of this three-sided stadium.
West Ham were lethargic, off the pace and apparently complacent as they were hustled from the stride as the track-suited Pellegrini failed to inspire his group.
He maintained Haller back till they were a goal down but after which the momentum has been flowing in the direction of Oxford, who should have inflicted even sexier punishment since they ran riot towards the end.
Jack Wilshere squandered an chance to stake a claim because he had been over-run by Baptiste’s energy. Wilshere seemed a spent force in comparison.
It was reminiscent of West Ham’s loss at League One AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup fourth round last season as they lacked heart and stomach for the battle, surrendering without implying for one moment they’d get back into this game once Oxford went forward.
West Ham have shown indications of stability and improvement in the Premier League, and this was an altered line-up, however, their performance was inexcusable and the plaudits have to go to the underdogs.
“I thought it was a poor performance from everybody,” explained Hammers captain Zabaleta.
“We are feeling sorry about the operation tonight and sorry to the outside fans who came to the game. It was just a terrible night.”
This contest gave Oxford that the greatest day in their history when they beat QPR at Wembley in 1986 – and this is a night that will also live in the memory of their jubilant fans.
West Ham made adjustments but, for context, Oxford manager Robinson also made six adjustments and his team coped much better with these alterations.
Oxford were in command from the very first sin, sensing immediately that West Ham weren’t in the right frame of mind to confront a decrease league competitor determined to inflict a shock.
Robinson might have feared that the first-half misses from Brannagan and Forde may haunt thembut they won at a canter and it would not have been unfair had they enjoyed an even greater success margin.
Oxford have now scored 10 goals without reply in their previous two games and this scoreline has been a more than accurate reflection of the gulf between the two sides.
Baptiste was outstanding in midfield, the veteran Mackie was a danger throughout and it’s huge charge to Robinson and his players they never took a backward step once Moore place them ahead 10 minutes after the rest.
Oxford continued to become more daring and go in search of targets, and the parties on and off the pitch in the final whistle were completely deserved.
This is a night of shame for West Ham, but it would be an insult and dedication to downgrade the quality of Oxford’s performance that attracted this outstanding victory.
“We had the impression in ourselves which we could get a result,” Robinson explained. “I am on the moon for the fans and the players.
“It’s about the players, on the fans and around the community of Oxfordshire and also the major thing for me now is the people who came here for the first time in quite a while, that they purchase a ticket and come on Saturday [for the league match against Gillingham].”
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