WEST HAM cast their relegation fears aside to knock Manchester United out of the Carling Cup, a result their manager Avram Grant claimed would provide the turning point in their season.
United, Premier League leaders and winners of the competition in each of the last two seasons, came into this quarter-final unbeaten this term and on the back of a 7-1 win over Blackburn.
But they were swept aside by a vibrant West Ham unit, who won’t be bottom of the league for much longer on this evidence, thanks to braces from former United defender Jonathan Spector and Carlton Cole.
“I’m not surprised because I’ve been with the players a long time and in some games here, the second half against Newcastle and the whole game against Liverpool, we’ve played well,” said Grant.
“Today we played fantastic and also scored and we kept a clean sheet. So I’m very happy. I thought we could win, but not by that score.
“It’s very special. To perform like this against the best team today in the country and score four goals, what more can I ask?”
The result was made all the more remarkable by the absence of West Ham’s inspirational skipper Scott Parker, who was fit enough only for the bench, and Grant believes this result will give his side the confidence to make a rapid climb up the league table.
He said: “It’s a new team with many new players and each game we are better. I’m very pleased by this and I hope we continue winning.
“If we continue to perform, continue to focus and continue as individuals and as a team then we can do it.”
Sir Alex Ferguson (left) made 10 changes from the weekend and it showed, particularly in defence, as Spector ghosted in unmarked to head West Ham in front midway through the first-half.
A slip by Fabio nine minutes later allowed Spector to smash in the second and the tie was over 10 minutes after the break when Cole powered home Victor Obina’s cross.
And the same combination worked again in the 67th minute when Cole collected Obina’s pass, rolled the feeble challenge of Johnny Evans and finished smartly past Tomasz Kuszczak.