West Ham will launch an investigation into their players’ night on the town after the Middlesbrough game this weekend.
Manager Slaven Bilic told his squad to go out for the evening on Monday but pictures surfaced on social media the following day of striker Andy Carroll and goalkeeper Darren Randolph, with users suggesting the pair appeared drunk.
The snaps have infuriated Hammers fans with the club languishing in the Premier League relegation zone having lost five of their six matches this season.
Yet under-pressure boss Bilic defended his suggestion and insisted the night out was good for team spirit.
“It was completely my idea,” he said. “After the Southampton game we had a big meeting and spoke, and at the end of the meeting I told Mark Noble, the skipper, to take the guys out to dinner.
“To spend time together is always good. I’ve been there before, it’s definitely a good idea and good to do it.
“There have been some rumours and all that but it’s private, it’s not proven, we are going to see what happened.
“I spoke to the chairman, but of course I’m totally concentrated on the game on Saturday. After the game, at the start of next week, we are going to talk about it and if necessary we are going to act.
“But it was my idea, completely. I told them to do that. For me it’s a good thing to do, not every week, but in a great situation or a bad situation, it’s good to stick together and it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for team building, and that’s it.”
In a week where off-field matters have taken centre stage, Bilic could do without his side’s struggles being magnified, but he admits he is worried by their dreadful start to the season.
“I am concerned. It’s a very bad start,” he added. “It’s not only about football then. If it’s like that then people start talking about non-football things that are happening. It’s not only that.
“If we are talking about the last five Premier League games then it’s simply not the way we expected it to be, it’s definitely no good and that’s why the only thing we are thinking about is the game on Saturday against Middlesbrough.”