Ranieri bemoans shambolic defending – as West Ham boss Pellegrini eyes top six

Claudio Ranieri is now under no illusions about the task he faces in keeping Fulham in the Premier League after a 2-0 defeat by West Ham.

The Cottagers remain the only team in England without a clean sheet this season after more chaotic defending handed first-half goals to Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio and left them rock bottom.

Yet new boss Ranieri also pointed to their lack of cutting edge in attack after they passed up a host of presentable opportunities while twice being caught out by West Ham’s counter-punches.

“We shot at goal 16 times – we have to be more and more effective,” said the Italian.

“They create two counter-attacks and they scored two goals. It’s unbelievable.

“I can say nothing today. They tried their best. When you play a team with experience and quality you try to do your best and we tried. My players were fighting to the end. They scored very easily, twice.

“Now I have to continue with these people and give them all my confidence and continue to work hard in training.”

West Ham’s goals were beautifully worked, but when not one of the seven defenders in attendance thought to close down Snodgrass on the edge of the area, and when Javier Hernandez – a player also known as ‘Little Pea’ – won a header in the box to set up Antonio’s second, Ranieri’s problems were laid bare.

Aboubakar Kamara could have had a first-half hat-trick but was denied three times by Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

In between time West Ham had taken a 17th-minute lead, Felipe Anderson expertly spinning away from Denis Odoi’s sliding tackle out on the left.

The Brazilian surged forward before laying the ball back for Snodgrass to guide in his second goal in as many games.

Anderson was also the creator of the second, Hernandez flicking on his cross and the totally unmarked Antonio pouncing at the far post.

These are heady days for Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers, who lost their first four matches of the season.

They have now won four on the trot for the first time since February 2014 and lie just two points behind sixth-placed Manchester United with a kind-looking festive fixture list still to come.

“We are very happy, to win four in a row is not easy in the Premier League,” said Pellegrini.

“We didn’t create too many chances but we scored the chances and we defended very well, especially in the second half.

“Is sixth place a target? It’s more of a target than when we started with not one point from the first 12, it’s very unexpected to be just two points from a European spot.

“We are talking about what is happening in the upper parts of the table and not at the bottom, I think that is the change of target for this season.

“The first five teams have a lot of points but we will try to continue winning and see where our spot is in the table.”