‘An empty bus pulled up outside Old Trafford yesterday lunchtime. The doors opened and off got West Ham United.
Pathetic, embarrassing and ultimately humiliated, West Ham's footballers proceeded to betray their club, their history, their manager Glenn Roeder and themselves. So shamefully bad were West Ham it was an afterthought that they went out of the FA Cup, a competition they used to do rather well in. There are defeats and there are defeats, but this was on such a scale that in the eyes of many of the 9,000 West Ham fans who travelled from London, Roeder's position was made untenable.
But Roeder did not resign yesterday. Nor, as of early last night, had he been sacked. His hour and more after the match had been spent with Sir Alex Ferguson, who told Roeder to stick with it. Roeder said that that is his intention - West Ham host Blackburn on Wednesday and Liverpool next Sunday in the Premiership - but it is now a question of whether West Ham stick with Roeder. Last season they did so when the Hammers lost 5-0 and 7-1 at Everton and Blackburn in consecutive weeks, but yesterday felt worse than both of those. This was Manchester United's biggest Cup win for 33 years.
"Excruciating," said Roeder, "especially that first 15 minutes of the second half. It was, to say the least, abysmal." Roeder then publicly questioned the desire of some of his players - "but for two or three". "Each defeat is not helping my position, but I'm not a person who gives into anything. That's how I am, that's how I've always been."’
‘West Ham were shambolic, a team in disarray and with no interest in going down fighting.’
‘The sight of Glenn Roeder standing on the touchline, giving instructions to a team six goals down was a forlorn one. King Canute might just as well have sat on his beach and asked the waves to push up more or told the pebbles to hold a tight line.
Before yesterday's Old Trafford turkey shoot, the West Ham manager had explained he found it hard to lambast his defenders lest he bruise fragile egos. Now, after a surrender as supine as any West Ham have managed in a season whose disintegration seems as inevitable as the tides, he spent an hour closeted in the dressing-room with his players delivering home truths.
Frankly, Farnborough put up more resistance at Highbury than West Ham managed at Old Trafford and the gulf in class was as vast.’