Mark Hughes criticises Southampton players after West Ham defeat
Last Updated: 31/03/18 6:30pm
Mark Hughes called Southampton's showing at West Ham "poor" and says his team must take their current predicament "on the chin."
The Hammers plunged Southampton deep into relegation trouble as Marko Arnautovic haunted Hughes in a 3-0 win on Saturday, where all their goals came in the first half.
The result sends West Ham five points clear of the drop zone while Southampton remain in the bottom three, two points from safety with Arsenal (a) and Chelsea (h) their next two games.
"We were poor," Hughes said. "The opening period of a game is vitally important.
"You have to understand as the away team that the home team is going to come flying out of the blocks and you have to be ready to go yourself.
"Unfortunately, as happened against Newcastle, a very similar situation unfolded today.
"We've got to stop that trait being a permanent thing because it's damaging us too critically at the moment.
"Key moments in games are the opening periods and either side of the half-time break. We didn't navigate those moments well enough and conceded too readily.
"Going in at 3-0, the game was over at that point. We were slightly better in the second half in terms of possession, but never really looked at any stage like we were going to get a foothold in the game.
"We've got to be a lot better. The group is honest enough: they'll look at themselves on an individual basis and collectively, and they need to come in on Monday ready to take things on the chin."
After returning to the side for his first taste of action since December, striker Charlie Austin did not hold back in his assessment of Southampton's performance.
"It was poor, not good enough and easy to say unacceptable, the first-half performance there's mistakes and they score from our corner when someone has got to foul him or do something," Austin said.
"It just wasn't good enough, we need to pull our finger out and do it sharp. There are seven games to go and we've given ourselves a mountain to climb.
"We've got win fast and get out the hole we're in. We're fortunate that results are half going our way to keep everyone around it."