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West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits it is harder to find a reason for the Hammers' recent run of defeats than it was during their poor spell at the turn of the year.
Having won four games in succession and hauling themselves out of the Barclays Premier League bottom three, Allardyce has seen his side slip to three consecutive defeats. West Ham were beaten away at Everton and Stoke before losing to a Wayne Rooney double at home to Manchester United on Saturday.
Those losses mean the Hammers are six points clear of the relegation zone, having played two games more than 18th-placed Sunderland, and tackle Hull at Upton Park on Wednesday evening looking to get back to winning ways.
For Allardyce it is not the first time he has had to address a worrying run this season, following a spell of seven Premier League games without a win throughout December and January.
Heavy FA Cup and Capital One Cup defeats during that period also added to the club's woes, as a host of injuries often meant Allardyce was left without a full quota of first-team players.
Now the 59-year-old, who kept his job during the difficult stage of the campaign, cannot pinpoint why his side are suffering a similar slump, beyond them lacking a clinical edge in attack and defence.
"We haven't achieved the results that the performances warranted," Allardyce said.
"That is the disappointment for me because we knew the bad times we had in December and January were really down to the limited players we had available.
"At the moment we have just not got that instinctive, killer edge on the front line and because we are going all out for it we have left the back door open a couple of times and the opposition have taken full advantage of that."
Only Joey O'Brien and Marco Borriello will definitely miss the game against Hull as Allardyce attempts to halt the slide.
Hull boss Steve Bruce will put his close friendship with Sam Allardyce to one side when his side do battle with the Hammers.
Bruce is six years younger than the 59-year-old Allardyce but he says they share a kindred spirit and the former centre-halves will be getting together soon for their annual holiday together.
"You tend to find your friends are away from football but I can call Sam as one of my friends," Bruce said.
"We both started in management at the same sort of time, him at Notts County and me at Sheffield United, 14 or 15 years ago and we've been hammer and tongs at each other since.
"Every summer we get together and have a few days away and enjoy some time together."
Just two points separate the two teams in their battle to pull away from the relegation zone but Bruce is confident both will enjoy mid-table security long before the end of the season.
Allardyce was named manager of the month for February after guiding the Hammers to four straight wins that has brought them within touching distance of safety.
"He's got that curse, hasn't he," Bruce said of the hoodoo which can often following the managerial prize. "There is nobody more experienced and, if you are in a dog fight, Sam's your man.
"He had some terrible injuries but, once he got his players back, over the last couple of months they look a West Ham team once again.
"I expect them to be nowhere near the relegation area when the end of the season comes."
Bruce, whose Hull team are two points in front of West Ham, believe Allardyce's reputation has been tarnished unfairly since he ended his successful stint at Bolton in 2007.
"He gets unfair labels thrown at him," Bruce said. "If you look at the job he did at Bolton, it was nothing short of miraculous. To finish in the top six three times was quite remarkable. Look where Bolton are now.
"His stint at Newcastle didn't last very long but they are still in a good position and he got West Ham promoted and kept them up. He's always been successful in what he's done and maybe doesn't get the recognition he deserves."
Bruce is hoping striker Shane Long and centre half Curtis Davies will both shake off knee injuries sustained in the 2-0 win over West Brom to enable the FA Cup semi-finalists to field an unchanged team.
Bruce, whose side need one more win to reach the 10 he predicted at the start of the year would be enough to guarantee survival, is confident Davies can help combat the threat of West Ham striker Andy Carroll.
"Andy Carroll is a handful when he's fit and flying like he is," Bruce said. "We've had the privilege of seeing Curtis over the last six months and you'd have to say he's been a terrific signing for us.
"He's had a wonderful season and I'm sure he will relish the challenge of it because that's the type of player he is.
"Whether it's Andy Carroll or Suarez or whoever it is, he seems to thrive on playing against them, which is good to see."
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