It was the sight of Jeff Hendrick, a sensible signing on a free transfer by Newcastle, finishing off a rapid break with a firm shot in the dying moments that summed up West Ham’s dysfunction. How many times has it happened since the move to the London Stadium in 2016? How many times have West Ham lost their shape chasing an equaliser and allowed visiting sides to punish them on the break?

Regular watchers of West Ham, who lack pace and positional sense in too many positions, were not surprised when Hendrick sealed a deserved win for Newcastle. This is what happens to teams who fail to address obvious flaws.

At least David Moyes managed to find a solution to West Ham’s lack of oomph in midfield when he signed Tomas Soucek in January. Yet they have still not signed a commanding centre-back and remain frail in both full-back positions; it was entirely predictable that Newcastle’s opening goal, claimed by another debutant, Callum Wilson, came from a cross.

The only consolation for West Ham was that no supporters were present to turn their ire on the board. Small mercies, though. Under pressure after the controversial sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom, there was little sign of any spark from West Ham. Mark Noble, author of a mutinous tweet after Diangana’s sale, wore a thunderous look as he sat on the bench for the final 23 minutes. The captain’s teammates looked fed up as well.

“It wasn’t something I saw coming,” Moyes said. “The players were in good spirits. I didn’t think we played well tonight. One or two decisions could have gone our way. But that wasn’t the difference.”

Jeff Hendrick scores Newcastle’s second goal

Jeff Hendrick scores Newcastle’s second goal. Photograph: Richard Pelham/Richard Pelham NMCPool

There has to be a response before the window shuts next month. Signings are required to lift the mood. “I don’t think we could have played any worse,” Declan Rice said. “Grady Diangana went 10 days ago. He is a big miss for us. But in our minds the dust has settled.”

Not in the minds of supporters, though. Two hours before kick-off a group turned up to protest against against David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady. They could see the warning signs when West Ham lost 5-3 to Bournemouth in their final pre-season friendly.

Their fears look justified. While Newcastle’s summer has been dominated by their failed Saudi Arabian takeover, they have had a productive window. Unlike West Ham, who have done nothing, Newcastle have made some smart additions. Their owner, Mike Ashley, must have been impressed as he watched Wilson and Hendrick make decisive impacts and Jamal Lewis shine at left-back.

Initially the issue for Newcastle, who kept Ryan Fraser on the bench after his move from Bournemouth, was taking their chances. Desperate to impress after his £20m move from the relegated south-coast club, Wilson snatched at a few chances in the first half. Jonjo Shelvey also missed a decent opening and Andy Carroll, who partnered Wilson in attack and rattled his old side with his aerial prowess, saw a volley deflected over.

West Ham threatened sporadically. Angelo Ogbonna and Pablo Fornals struck the woodwork and Soucek headed wide. Yet West Ham always struggle when opponents attack down the flanks and it was not a surprise when they cracked in the 56th minute, even if there was an element of fortune to Javier Manquillo’s delivery from the right deflecting off Pablo Fornals and allowing Hendrick to set up Wilson.

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Hendrick was alert as he headed on at the near post and Wilson grabbed a poacher’s goal, studding the ball past Lukasz Fabianski. “Callum enjoys playing against West Ham and it was good to see them two get off the mark,” Steve Bruce said. “We were worthy winners.”

Moyes threw on Sébastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko. The equaliser almost arrived, West Ham screaming that Hendrick had handled Haller’s shot off the line. Mostly, though, the hosts huffed and puffed. Hendricks’ poise killed them off.



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