West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini took responsibility as his side were bundled out of the Carabao Cup in humiliating fashion by League One Oxford United.
The Hammers arrived at the Kassam Stadium on the back of an outstanding win over Manchester United to reach the heights of fifth in the Premier League, but Karl Robinson’s side superbly outplayed and over-powered their illustrious opponents, who ended a complete shambles.
Oxford, currently 12th in League One, were high on confidence after a record-breaking 6-0 win at Lincoln City at the weekend and this was a famous and richly merited triumph.
“The whole team didn’t play well. Not only did we concede four goals, but we didn’t create too many chances,” Pellegrini said.
“We missed too many passes from the beginning and the responsibility is first on me because I picked the players, and second on the team that didn’t compete.
“It’s easy to say that we played very badly, but Oxford did everything they needed to win this game. They played with a lot of motivation, with desire and we didn’t play well.”
Both sides fielded much-changed sides and the only surprise was West Ham actually survived for so long before conceding after 55 minutes when Oxford central defender Elliott Moore shot across Roberto.
Oxford, who missed clear chances in the first half through Cameron Brannagan and Anthony Forde, almost increased their lead immediately as Roberto saved brilliantly from Jamie Mackie.
But there was no escape for West Ham as substitute Matty Taylor turned in Mark Sykes’ cross with 19 minutes left.
Substitute Tariqe Fosu, a hat-trick hero at Lincoln City, raced clear from the halfway line to score with great composure after 84 minutes to extinguish any hopes of a West Ham comeback.
The agony was not over yet for West Ham boss Pellegrini and his abject side as Shandon Baptiste deservedly capped a man-of-the-match showing with a classy fourth.
Oxford host fellow League One side Sunderland, who won 1-0 at Sheffield United, in the fourth round in the week commencing 28 October.
“Looking at the scoreboard – 4-0 against West Ham and a very strong West Ham – this will probably go down as one of the biggest results at the Kassam in recent years,” Oxford boss Robinson said.
Humiliation for West Ham and Pellegrini
The EFL Cup represented a realistic opportunity for West Ham to win a trophy, but Pellegrini risked this shock by making nine changes, leaving out danger men Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson.
He paid the price as the Hammers produced a desperate display, much to the annoyance of the fans who packed one corner of this three-sided stadium.
West Ham were lethargic, off the pace and apparently complacent as they were hustled out of their stride as the track-suited Pellegrini failed to inspire his team.
He kept Haller back until they were a goal down but by then the momentum was flowing inexorably in the direction of Oxford, who should have inflicted even heavier punishment as they ran riot towards the end.
Jack Wilshere wasted an opportunity to stake a claim as he was over-run by the energy of Baptiste. Wilshere looked a spent force in contrast.
It was reminiscent of West Ham’s loss at League One AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup fourth round last season as they lacked heart and stomach for the fight, surrendering without suggesting for one moment they would get back into this game once Oxford went ahead.
West Ham have shown signs of stability and improvement in the Premier League, and this was an altered line-up, but their performance was inexcusable and all the plaudits must go to the underdogs.
“I thought it was a poor performance from everyone,” said Hammers captain Zabaleta.
“We feel sorry about the performance tonight and sorry to the away fans who came to the game. It was just a bad night.”
Oxford’s glory night
This competition gave Oxford the greatest day in their history when they beat QPR at Wembley in 1986 – and this is a night that will also live long in the memory of the jubilant fans.
West Ham made changes but, for context, Oxford manager Robinson also made six changes and his team dealt much better with those alterations.
Oxford were in command from the first whistle, sensing immediately that West Ham were not in the right frame of mind to face a lower league opponent determined to inflict a shock.
Robinson may have feared the first-half misses from Brannagan and Forde may haunt them, but they won at a canter and it would not have been unfair had they enjoyed an even greater victory margin.
Oxford have now scored 10 goals without reply in their past two games and this scoreline was a more than accurate reflection of the gulf between the two sides.
Baptiste was outstanding in midfield, the veteran Mackie was a threat throughout and it is huge credit to Robinson and his players that they never took a backward step once Moore put them ahead 10 minutes after the break.
Oxford continued to be bold and go in search of goals, and the celebrations on and off the pitch at the final whistle were fully deserved.
This was a night of shame for West Ham, but it would be an insult and injustice to downgrade the quality of Oxford’s performance that brought this outstanding victory.
“We had the belief in ourselves that we could get a result,” Robinson said. “I’m over the moon for the fans and the players.
“It’s about the players, about the fans and about the community of Oxfordshire and the big thing for me now is the people who came here for the first time in a long time, that they buy a ticket and come on Saturday [for the league game against Gillingham].”
In a quiet corner of London, one of India’s most venerated “founding fathers” continues to leave his mark.
The city’s affluent Primrose Hill neighbourhood has been home to generations of celebrities, from model Kate Moss to actor Daniel Craig.
But hundreds of visitors – including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – have flocked from around the world to one particular townhouse.
“Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Indian Crusader of Social Justice, lived here 1921-22,” proclaims a blue plaque outside the house.
Step through its doors, past a bust of Dr Ambedkar draped in garlands, and guests can see rooms reconstructed in his memory, with legal documents strewn across a dining room table. His glasses lie next to dog-eared books on the bedside table.
But there’s a problem: two neighbouring residents are opposed to the museum which, according to the local council, should not exist.
Next month, the fate of the museum will be decided at a council hearing. Its owners could be forced to convert it back into a residential property and close its doors to visitors, diluting the legacy of a man whose influence still reverberates in India to this day.
Known as Ambedkar House, the building was bought by the government of Maharashtra, a state in western India, for more than £3m ($3.65m) in 2015.
Since its inauguration by Prime Minister Modi in 2015, it has operated as a free-to-visit attraction, dedicated to Dr Ambedkar, who is known as the architect of India’s constitution.
The home has attracted hundreds of guests, and three neighbours told the BBC that during this time, visitors have come and gone without any disturbance. One resident, who lived across the road, said they did not even know it existed.
But in January 2018, Ambedkar House was reported to Camden Council for a planning breach, and the council found that the building did not have permission to operate as a museum.
In February 2018, the property’s owners retrospectively applied for permission to use the building as a museum. But in October 2018, the council rejected the claim, arguing that it would amount to an “unacceptable loss” of residential space.
Two residents have also complained to the council, in north-west London, about alleged disturbances caused by “coach loads” of visitors making “noise day and night”.
The government of Maharashtra has appealed against the decision and a public inquiry is scheduled for 24 September.
Maharashtra’s government refused to comment on the case. But in a statement to the BBC, India’s High Commission – its embassy in the UK – said the property “holds a special significance for a huge section of Indians”. It said a planning application was submitted to Camden Council to convert the house into a memorial.
Dr Ambedkar – a Maharashtra native who died in 1956 – was a legal scholar, a passionate civil rights activist and the man tasked with drafting the country’s constitution after its independence in 1947. He was also India’s first law minister.
He was born a Dalit – one of the so-called “untouchables” of India’s caste system – and became the most important and revered political leader for the community, which has faced social and economic discrimination for centuries.
He fought for women’s rights, an end to caste discrimination, and reserving jobs in government and schools for disadvantaged groups. He is widely regarded as one of India’s greatest political leaders.
Before his his political career, Dr Ambedkar briefly lived in Primrose Hill, from 1921-22, while studying for a doctorate degree in economics at the London School of Economics.
That’s why, at the suggestion of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations (FABO), the government of Maharashtra bought the property in 2015.
When the house came up for sale, former UK civil servant Santosh Dass, who lives in Hounslow, west London, convinced the state to buy it.
She told the BBC that the property was in a dilapidated state at the time, and said the renovation work had given the home, and the community, a new lease of life.
“We’ve done the neighbourhood a favour,” said Ms Dass, president of the FABO.
She said that discussions had been held about getting permission to turn the house into a formal museum, but organisers “underestimated how much time the whole thing would take”.
“We really want it to be a proper memorial so people can come and visit,” said Ms Dass. “Some people see it as a pilgrimage.”
About 50 people are estimated to visit Ambedkar House every week, including enthusiasts who travel from far away. Outside the building, one family told the BBC they had travelled from India to visit the home, which was top of their sightseeing agenda in London.
C Gautam, a FABO committee member, was sanguine about the future of the property as a museum because “eminent people support us”.
A letter in support of the museum has been written to the borough council by Lord Richard Harries, a former bishop of Oxford. Some neighbouring residents, however, do not share his enthusiasm.
One local resident, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC: “It’s supposed to be residential, not a museum.”
The resident claimed that Ambedkar House “went ahead with the renovations without permission”, adding that “crowds of people come here now”.
During Camden’s public consultation, one resident also complained that visitors “arrive in coach loads, taking photos and making noise”.
Bonnie Dobson, who lives on King Henry’s Road, told the BBC she considered the objections “puzzling and upsetting”. The 78-year-old Canadian folk singer said she had lived in Primrose Hill since 1969 and made a concerted effort to know her neighbours.
“To the best of my knowledge, no-one has ever been disturbed by the fact that the house is now a little museum,” she said.
Ms Dobson said she liked the idea that tourists were coming to see Ambedkar House but disputed ever seeing “coach loads” of visitors. “If there were coaches coming up and down my road I’d know it,” she added.
Ultimately, it is the Planning Inspectorate – an independent agency working for the UK government – that will make a judgement on the planning appeal.
If Ambedkar House lost the appeal, its owners “would be required to return the property to its lawful use as residential”, a council spokeswoman told the BBC.
In a report on the planning application, the council said the conversion of the building into a museum was, in theory, permissible. However, it was the loss of residential space that breached policy and led to the rejection, the council said.
“In terms of balancing the loss of residential floor space against the cultural benefits, there is nothing to suggest that an alternative site could not be found,” the council said.
Mr Gautam insisted that most neighbours had been supportive of Ambedkar House.
“They tell us that some of their relatives remember when Ambedkar lived there 100 years ago,” he told the BBC. “So they seem really happy that a unique thing is happening here.”
Inside the building, a quote from Dr Ambedkar is printed on one of the walls. “Democracy is essentially an attitude of reverence towards our fellow men,” the quote reads.
The council’s reverence for Ambedkar House, it seems, remains an open question.