Football: With every match they fail to win Chelsea’s title chances fade that little further and Rafa Benitez’s popularity as interim manager continues to dip.
Against West Ham, they had the opportunity to win after taking the lead, but were undone by a superb second-half effort from Sam Allardyce’s men.
Of great concern to Chelsea fans is that their side have won just once in eight matches and, where they were jostling for position at the top of the league table a few weeks ago, they are now part of the chasing pack behind Manchester United. Chelsea are 10 points behind Alex Ferguson’s men.
The Spanish manager is now three matches into his stewardship and remains winless. Asked about his future at the club, Benitez’s responses were confident. Underneath, however, he must be worried.
“My concern is improving the team and, if we do that and start winning games, we’ll be able to turn things around,” he said when asked if he could lose his job before his short-term contract ends.
“The main thing for me is to improve the team. I’m not thinking about anything else. And, if we improve on the pitch, the fans will be happy.”
There were 12 minutes on the clock when Juan Mata put his side ahead with a powerful finish from within the penalty area.
At times, there was a familiar swagger to Chelsea’s play and it seemed that Benitez’s men would be on their way to their first victory.
But West Ham were a different proposition after the break and, by the end of the second half, they had taken the win in emphatic fashion, with goals from Carlton Cole, a controversial headed effort in which he appeared to foul his marker in the build-up to the goal, and substitutes Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga.
Allardyce must be credited for his decision to ring the changes. Matthew Taylor brought balance on the flanks, but it was the introduction of Diame that added energy that was missing from West Ham’s first-half efforts.