LONDON // West Ham's Premier League future - and that of their manager Gianfranco Zola - is hanging by a thread after a sixth consecutive defeat. Ricardo Fuller, the Stoke striker, came off the bench to score a brilliant solo goal after 69 minutes to send West Ham spiralling towards the relegation trap-door. Hull's victory over Fulham at the KC Stadium meant West Ham's cushion has been lost with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three.
David Sullivan, West Ham's co-owner, had blasted the midweek 3-1 defeat to Wolves as "pathetic" and "appalling" and there was little evidence of an improvement today. In an open letter to supporters Sullivan also pointed to West Ham's lack of quality players and, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole apart, that was clearly evident as they once again lacked passion and ideas. Mido missed the Hammers' best chance. Cole's shot from the edge of the box was parried by Thomas Sorenson, but the Egyptian - 10 yards out and with only a sprawling keeper to beat - could not bring the rebound under control and it ricocheted away off his thigh.
On 67 minutes, Fuller was sent on for Matthew Etherington and within two minutes he had scored the winner with a brilliant solo effort. Fuller collected long ball on the left edge of the box, left Manuel Da Costa flailing, cut past Parker and inside Matthew Upson before rifling his shot past Robert Green. Speculation in the British media suggested Zola would lose his job should West Ham lose yesterday. The writing is surely on the wall after this display.
* PA Sport