PREDICTABLY, Sam Allardyce brought Newcastle United down to earth – with a bump.
The Magpies players had emerged into a bubble-filled Upton Park looking to stretch a six-game unbeaten run which had taken them up to fifth in the Premier League.
By the final whistle, however, Newcastle’s bubble had been burst.
Alan Pardew’s side ended the weekend in eighth place.
The bubble had been punctured by the unlikely figure of Aaron Cresswell, who reacted quickest to a mishit shot from Cheikhou Kouyate which bobbled into the box in the second half.
Moussa Sissoko’s mindless dismissal just added insult to injury, as did the one-game suspension picked up by Jack Colback for a needless tug on Cheikhou Kouyate’s shirt.
After the game, Newcastle manager Pardew said Sissoko, booked less than a minute earlier for kicking the ball away, had “lost his mind a bit”.
But it wasn’t just Sissoko, Pardew’s team, which surprisingly included Yoan Gouffran at the expense of Remy Cabella, lost shape and discipline after the break.
There hadn’t been much between the two teams in the first half.
Newcastle, and especially captain Cheik Tiote on his return from injury, matched West Ham physically and forward Ayoze Perez was a danger on the break.
Both teams had half-chances, nothing more.
But the afternoon started to unravel after Colback’s booking early in the second half.
West Ham kept their heads, Newcastle seemingly lost theirs.
The goal, however, had an element of fortune about it.
Kouyate, stood outside the area, mishit a shot in the 55th minute, and Cresswell reacted quickest to poke it past Rob Elliot, set for an extended run in goal with Tim Krul facing several weeks on the sidelines because of an ankle injury.
Up to then, Elliot hadn’t had a great deal to do.
Pardew made changes – Cabella and Papiss Demba Cisse replaced Gouffran and Tiote – but Newcastle remained on the back foot.
And the team’s cause wasn’t helped by previously in-form Sissoko, earlier handed the captain’s armband by Tiote as he left the field.
Sissoko – who had been a powerhouse during the club’s winning run – booted the ball away, and was booked, after he didn’t get a decision.
Then he crudely challenged former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who made the most of the contact.
In any case, referee Mike Dean had little option but to show Sissoko a second yellow card, and he trudged off the pitch knowing he had let his team down.
Pardew is hopeful his team can underline their European credentials at Burnley.
“We have to take it (the defeat) on the chin – we’re not going to moan about anything,” said Pardew whose team dropped from fifth. “West Ham just edged it.
“I said to the team that the first goal in the Premier League is so important when the platform is so tight, which it was between the two teams.
“We have won games against Liverpool and Spurs where it could have gone against us. We are thankful they didn’t on those occasions but we can’t be disappointed.
“We would have liked to have played a little bit better than we did, but the most important thing is to now to get the next result.
“When we finished fifth (in 2011-12) – and when I have had really good teams in the past – we have bounced back quickly.
“Even though it was a blow losing the game – and to lose Moussa and Jack for Burnley is tough for us – we will have to get on with it.”
Pardew feels there’s an opportunity for Newcastle this season.
“I think it is very tight from fourth down to 12th,” said the 53-year-old. “I think there is going to be a lot of chopping and changing right up until the end of the season.
“We hope that we are at the right end.”