• Fans voice their opinion to club owner
• Chelsea's worst league run in 17 years
The chant went up from those in the lower tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand while the rest of the arena was bouncing in frenzied celebration at Mohamed Diamé's belted finish. "Roman Abramovich, is this what you want?" asked the visiting contingent, their plaintive chorus a lament wailed at an absent owner in desperate, confused times. This club is unravelling and no one, even the oligarch, appears to know how to restore sense.
Abramovich was not present in the East End on Saturday but he will be painfully aware of his team's toils in his absence. There is concern eating away at the board that the decision to remove Roberto Di Matteo and impose Rafael Benítez upon this squad has not had an instantly beneficial impact, and fury at the second-half disintegration to a reinvigorated West Ham that was just as sloppy and slapdash as the collapse to Juventus under the previous manager.
Or, indeed, the obliteration endured at Napoli under Di Matteo's predecessor. If the solidity of the interim first-team manager's first two games in charge had hinted at improvement, that mirage has faded. This is already the club's worst league run for 17 years.
The days to come could see the European champions dispatched to the Europa League regardless of how they fare at home to Nordsjaelland, with Benítez and his 23-man squad due to fly to Japan from Newcastle airport after Saturday's game at Sunderland to compete at the Fifa Club World Cup. They might have slipped into mid-table by the time they return.
The stand-in is due to be on that flight, the Spaniard just a handful of training sessions and three winless matches into his seven-month contract, but already the pressure feels excruciating. Ray Wilkins, a man with first-hand experience of just how ruthless this regime can be, has suggested it is "out of the question" that Benítez might be replaced before the end of the season but it is folly to be so certain. This is Chelsea, where even winning a European Cup is not enough. Nothing can be considered too outlandish and, after all, Avram Grant is currently out of work and available.
Benítez is fighting against the world at present. The supporters continue to pour scorn on him – his professionalism cannot be doubted but he will never win acceptance – and his team is bereft of leadership in the continued absence of John Terry and Frank Lampard. Both players will train with the first team on Monday as they recover from knee and calf injuries respectively, and will travel to Japan, though the medical staff will be scrutinising their efforts for any hint of a relapse.
Neither is expected to feature on Wearside but without the pair Chelsea are horribly brittle. Juan Mata, who had opened the scoring back when the visitors were dominant, was the nearest they had to a resistance leader here as the game veered away from them after the break but his free-kick cannoned off the woodwork. Thereafter, there was no one in the ranks capable of wresting back control.
The contrast with José Mourinho's Chelsea side was stark. It was that team Benítez competed so ferociously against. "Yes, they had a lot of character," he said. "But it is a different time. We have young players in their first year in the Premier League. They have talent and quality but that game was very physical. If you cannot cope with that, you cannot show your quality."
They shrunk as the game progressed, Diamé and Carlton Cole bullying them into submission as West Ham summoned belief, urgency and drive. Ramires and Mikel John Obi were eclipsed, the visiting defence unprotected and unnerved.
Cole's equaliser was fortunate given his wrestling of Branislav Ivanovic, but Chelsea could offer no resistance against Diamé and Modibo Maïga late on. "They didn't show as much resilience as they needed to overcome what we were doing," said Sam Allardyce. "They're missing John Terry. They're missing leadership. But Roman is the owner of Chelsea Football Club and is entitled to do whatever he wants because of the amount of money he puts behind the team. He's one of the reasons the Premier League has become such a great brand around the world, with the money he's put in. What he wants you have to deal with if you're the manager. And you have to deliver."
The West Ham manager has had his own doubters despite everything he has achieved at Upton Park, but this felt like a watershed: an eye-catching victory achieved despite Andy Carroll's knee injury which will rule him out for up to two months. This was as much the manager's triumph as that of his players, the reaction to such a callow first-half showing hugely impressive and shocking for the visitors to endure, leaving Benítez to sift through the debris.
"I was angry at the end," he added. "I think the players were angry, too. They know this is not the ideal situation and that, if I am here, it is because something was wrong and that they are not at the level everyone expects. I knew it was a challenge but I'm sure the team is good enough to win things and, if we win matches, everyone will be happier. Things will change." That may be true, though change at Chelsea generally only means one thing.
Man of the match Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United)