Noel Whelan has blasted West Ham defender Issa Diop for the role he played in the club’s shock 4-0 defeat to Oxford United in the League Cup on Wednesday.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds United striker says that the centre-back, who has been a mainstay in the Premier League under Manuel Pellegrini this season, should have been leading the side in order to avoid complacency against the League One outfit.
Diop was one of just two players who remained from the starting XI who beat Manchester United 2-0, although the majority who came in for Pellegrini were experienced first-teamers.
Whelan says that as a senior mainstay, it should have been up to Diop to make sure his teammates kept their standards up and that the overall performance and result was an embarrassment for the Hammers.
Whelan told Football Insider: “Sometimes, when the players around you aren’t doing it, you’ll fall into that trap (of being complacent). It’s very easy.
“You need a leader out there and when players aren’t playing to their capabilities, if he’s been in the first-team week in, week out, he should be the one leading, he should be the one demanding. If he’s not a talker, you’ve got no chance. If he’s not a leader you’re not going to change anything.
“You’re going to end up sucked in to the complacency of the players around you, not respecting the game properly. There’s no way on earth West Ham – and no disrespect to Oxford – they’ve set their standards after beating Manchester United, to go and lose in that manner to Oxford, it’s a disgrace to the club. The players should be embarrassed.”
Diop has played every minute of the Irons’ Premier League campaign this season, with Pellegrini chopping and changing between Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena as his partner at the heart of the defence.