WEST HAM manager Avram Grant remains adamant his side will stave off relegation despite seeing the Hammers slide back to the bottom of the Premier League table following defeat at Sunderland.
Consecutive home wins against Wigan in the league and Manchester United in the Carling Cup quarter-final had hinted at a possible revival.
West Ham had also moved up to 19th on goal difference after Blackburn beat Wolves 3-0 on Saturday, but Grant’s men are propping up the rest against after Jordan Henderson’s first goal of the campaign proved the difference at the Stadium of Light.
Despite seeing their mini revival stalled, Grant maintains his side have shown enough in recent weeks to suggest a permanent upturn in fortunes isn’t far away.
“We were better in the second half. We started the game not so good. We had chances to score so we’re disappointed,” Grant said after his side’s fifth away defeat of the campaign. “We are playing away at Sunderland and we had chances in the second half. They had possession and they scored.
“It’s fair to say that we need to improve, the gap is not too big. The team has progressed well in the last two weeks. We have been more efficient compared to what we had before.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen today but we can take a lot from this game. The whole week has given us confidence the second-half here gave us confidence.”
Sunderland, protecting an unbeaten home record in the league this season, were by far the sharper side in the first-half and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 34th minute.
Nedum Onuoha floated a long ball to record-signing Asamoah Gyan and the Ghanaian placed a superb cross into the box from the right which Henderson fired home for his first goal in almost a year.
Victor Obinna hit a post after the break and Scott Parker fired wide leaving West Ham still without an away win this season.
Grant said: “Many of the away games the difference has only been one goal. It doesn’t take a lot to turn those games in our favour. We have to do that because we don’t want to go for such a long time without winning an away game.
“We have a good squad to stay up, we showed it in the last few games. Even before that we were on top of most of the teams we played against. We have the squad but we want to be stronger.”