Haven't we been here before?

You know, just for a couple of days people were actually taking West Ham seriously. Then we go and produce yet another cup humiliation to go with the dozens and dozens that have littered the last 50 years or more.

Beat Manchester United and then three days later lose at Oxford United. Sadly you can make it up, because we do it regularly.

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This time around critics were beginning to say nice things about the manager, the side he has constructed and the belief we could reach the top six. Even Gary Neville said so, and he also reckoned we had a handful of players that would get into "United's" side. More than that actually, Gary.

With Manchester United and Spurs nowhere near their best, with Wolves in the bottom three and Everton also seriously struggling, teams that all finished above us last season, the top six in the Premier League was opening up.

What was needed was a continuation of the confidence that seemed to be flooding through club and fans alike. A decent cup run to keep everything going along nicely. Then we get stuffed 4-0 at Oxford in the League Cup.

The two things are compatible, we should have a squad capable of success on both fronts. But we haven't, it's as simple as that. We don't have the back-up good enough, we don't have enough bright youngsters to step into cup ties against clubs in the lower divisions.

But this is nothing new. My colleague Graeme Howlett has been fielding enraged fans all day, he produced a list going back to the Blackpool disaster of 1971. Well pal, I have a few years on you and I remember the 60s and losing to Mansfield, Rotherham, Plymouth and Darlington. So there.

But the names of old timers appearing on our forum and website have a familiar ring. We have been on those same terraces back in the old days together. We know how to suffer.

I have heard ever since the Oxford embarrassment that we should not send out weakened sides in the cups; we will never win the title, so the theory goes, so why not prioritise the cups? Fair point, but back in those good old days we put out seriously impressive sides in cup ties.

And I have witnessed the likes of Moore, Hurst and Peters being on the end of the sort of defeat that gratefully only a handful of West Ham fans had to witness on Wednesday, such was the size of the ground and the lack of serious TV coverage.

So it's not just the quality of the side, so are we just cursed or do we have this arrogant streak about us that always trips us up when the likes of Wigan, Wimbledon or Oxford come out to play us? Frankly if I knew the answer I would be manager, but you can almost see it coming our way, like it has always been.

But the here and now is slightly different. It's more about staying in the division, getting into Europe, making the very most of the prize money now on offer for each league position. It's all about money and a couple of league places is worth more than winning a cup.

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Actually I am not exactly proud of the next bit, but I would rather finish sixth, or stay in the division than win a cup. Sorry, and I know I will get slaughtered for that.

Deep down Pelle thinks the same. If we fielded a strong side at Oxford and someone got injured, he would be hounded. We have Manuel Lanzini injured, Michail Antonio injured, Winston Reid always injured, Jack Wilshere something of a liability. Any more injuries and the league position suffers. Yep, that's me being devil's advocate. Someone has to.

Only big clubs get away with this mass rotation and shuffling of kids. We do not have the squad depth or the youngsters in the system to make it work.

And the numbers don't help. Over 20 players off the wage bill, six incoming and seven out on loan. These are not easy decisions for Pelle, who keeps talking about us having to act like a big club.

But we don't act or look like a big club, sadly. Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea all seem able to rotate their players, bring in a few likely lads, and still get through the lesser rounds of cup competitions before it all starts getting serious.

Somehow I reckon that Manuel Pellegrini knows that too. Was he making some sort of subconscious point here, showing that we have to address this situation, one he has breezed through at Manchester City? A general policy that does not seem to work now he is at West Ham.

Pellegrini expects our players to react to wholesale changes just like Manchester City's players do. Or Liverpool players do. To slot in and out seamlessly.

Back in the day I recall watching Manchester United field a youth team at Port Vale and win. We don't seem to have more than one or two kids we can safely put in and trust not to sink. Jurgen Klopp made the point that it's easy to talk of using youth, but sometimes its difficult when you face "real men".

But he had just seen four teenagers, including one 16-year-old, put pay to MK Dons. (Gomez, Keita, Lovren and Milner all played too, to give balance.)

Manchester City winning at Preston had teenagers at centre back; Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis. But City also had Jesus, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan in the side.

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We cannot begin to match that sort of mix and balance. Pellegrini tried something similar. But Wilshere was overrun by youngster Baptiste, a real worry that, and in keeping with the impression many have got about the weary looking former Arsenal man. A spent force, someone described him as.

Robert Snodgrass looked a pale shadow of the competitive player we saw last season and Carlos Sanchez gave a passable impersonation of a immobile lamp post, in particular when failing to deal with Elliott Moore for the first goal.

Pablo Zabaleta was caught at the far post for the second and goalkeeper Roberto was doing little more than watching a cross flash in front of him.

And I am not blaming youngster Nathan Holland for all this. By all accounts he did pretty well in that first half, more than holding his own. He was only hooked on the hour to let Seb Haller into the action. Mark Noble came on, Felipe Anderson too, but by then it was all too late.

I can only say that had we started with Haller and Anderson and either had been injured there would have been hell to pay.

Pellegrini blames himself for the Oxford debacle, he claims some players didn't have the commitment required to give 100 per cent in such a match - a frankly shocking admission. But we all want them available at Bournemouth.

Trouble here is that only 1,500 of our brethren saw this disgrace in all it's glory. No TV (apart from the brief highlights and the few minutes on West Ham's website) was available. Just a Radio London commentary I could only pick up on Sky. So we only have the views of the few who were there, or journalists.

I have spoken to some mates who did have tickets (that's where all this nonsense has come from), some who took several hours to get back from Oxford to Essex (eat your heart out Joey Beauchamp) and their feelings I have done my best to paraphrase because of the language.

But is there any way out of this maze? If we field our best side and people get hurt the manager gets a slagging. If we try to behave like the big boys and lose, the manager gets a slagging.

It is fair to say, though, the the players could have played a touch better and tried a touch harder.

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