Downbeat West Ham boss Slaven Bilic insists there is no split within the Hammers’ dressing room despite his side crumbling to a fourth straight Premier League defeat against an impressive Southampton.
The Saints were composed and sleek as goals from in-form hitman Charlie Austin, winger Dusan Tadic and substitute James Ward-Prowse consigned West Ham to a fifth loss in six top-flight matches this term.
Their latest setback kept the east London club marooned in the relegation zone with only winless duo Sunderland and Stoke beneath them, while a second successive win propelled Southampton to ninth.
“From what I see they are good with each other, maybe too good with each other. They are a very healthy group of players which is working hard in training,” said Bilic.
“Of course, when it’s not going so well then you can’t expect the atmosphere to be smashing and booming, but have I noticed any problems in the dressing room or training? No.
“They are the same players that did it last year, that the majority of people were speaking volumes about. But it’s happened for four games now and we have to change it, big time.
"I told the players after Watford or West Brom that there was no need to panic, the credit was there for a lot of them, but now it is gone.”
Aside from a couple of tame penalty appeals West Ham barely threatened in an abject opening half, while Southampton were looking equally blunt.
That all changed five minutes before the break as Tadic linked with Ryan Bertrand down the left flank and the defender’s low pull-back was clinically steered across goalkeeper Adrian by Austin.
The goal gave Southampton impetus and Adrian was required to repel a Nathan Redmond effort with his feet, while full-back Cedric Soares lashed into the side-netting with Austin lurking.
The Hammers were indebted to Adrian seven minutes after the restart as he denied Tadic from Cedric’s pass after the Serbian’s cheeky backheel had sliced open the Hammers’ defence.
Southampton doubled their lead shortly after the hour mark as Austin’s canny pass set Tadic free and the 27-year-old danced around an exposed Adrian and slotted into an unguarded net.
The Saints appeared capable of running amok; Steven Davis blazed over when well placed, while the same player was thwarted by a last-gasp Havard Nordtveit block and Adrian saved from Redmond.
West Ham merely hinted at a retaliation. Dimitri Payet curled wide before strapping Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk hacked off the line from Simone Zaza’s prod towards goal.
But a route back into the clash was not forthcoming. More chances came and went for Southampton before Ward-Prowse rifled past Adrian in injury-time after a Davis cross was deflected into his path by centre-half Angelo Ogbonna.