Dean Kiely believes West Ham manager Alan Curbishley can turn the club around if he is given enough time.
I am not enjoying one minute of this
The Premiership strugglers are deep in relegation trouble and West Brom keeper Kiely admits Curbishley, who he played under at Charlton, looks "dejected".
Kiely told BBC Sport: "I doubt Alan has ever had such disharmony at a club and his body language shows he is unhappy.
"But he must now set the tone. He has the skills, and will not walk away - but he may not get the time he needs."
Indeed, time waits for no manager as Alan Pardew found in December when he was sacked by West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson, who had taken over the club a mere 20 days previously.
606 DEBATE: Your reaction to Kiely's comments
Magnusson then appointed Curbishley - but the Hammers have since won only twice in 13 matches, including an FA Cup victory over League One Brighton.
The single Premiership win came in Curbishley's first match in charge against leaders Manchester United and proved to be an entirely false dawn.
More representative of the misery at West Ham is their recent 4-0 thrashing by Curbishley's former club Charlton, who are now managed by Pardew and also staring relegation in the face.
Kiely said: "Alan does look very down at the moment. I'm sure he thought he would pick West Ham up, go from strength to strength, and give himself a chance to revamp the club in the summer.
"But that is very far from what has happened."
I think it's probably the first time Alan has experienced such disharmony at a club
The reality appears to have horribly shaken Curbishley; his posture, gestures and words are all those of a man in despair.
Curbishley cuts the sad figure of a man emotionally distraught at being unable to help a loved one - for that is what West Ham is to him; the club he played for, now manages and has always held in such affection.
"I'm sure what really hurts Alan is if he feels players are not showing the commitment, endeavour, and pride in the West Ham shirt that he did when he played for the club," added Kiely.
"You have got to have players who are prepared to put their bodies on the line, who will go an extra yard and who care."
Perhaps therein lies the problem, maybe Curbishley is too affable -"even-keeled" as Kiely describes him - to sort out an under-achieving set of players.
Curbishley, according to Kiely, is a "good fella" - but a 'Goodfella' of sorts is what is needed; a ruthless mob boss to deal with West Ham's seemingly unruly mob.
At Charlton, Curbishley was the head of a friendlier family.
Kiely, who was at Charlton between 1999 and 2006 recalls: "We were a bunch of very low-maintenance players.
CURBISHLEY'S WEST HAM RECORD
"For a long time in that golden era at Charlton the team picked itself from Monday to Friday.
"There were no dramas, the players relished playing for the club and we got the job done with no fuss.
"Curbs guided us, but make no mistake we were a group of players who were self-referencing, self-motivating, we knew our jobs and did them very well."
Another contrast from Curbishley's tenure at Charlton is the speed at which he has had to make changes at West Ham - with rapid decisions needed in the hope of providing instant solutions.
And in the January transfer window, perhaps Curbishley's judgement was hindered by his being unaccustomed to the faster pace.
Were Nigel Quashie, who has already experienced relegation four times, and Calum Davenport, surplus to requirements at Tottenham, panic buys?
It is up to Alan to instil a work ethic in the team and run the club the way he wants to - and he needs to do it quickly
"Alan had to buy fast and that was maybe a bit foreign to him as he took his time to assess players when he was at Charlton. He watched Darren Bent for a season before he bought him," said Kiely.
"But at West Ham he needed immediate results -and obviously things have not gone for him."
And then there's Matthew Upson, who has been injured for most of the time since signing in January, and apparently has a clause in his contract which allows him to leave West Ham if they go down.
"I don't know if it is the case at West Ham, but if there are players thinking that they will be all right if the club gets relegated because their agent says he will get them a transfer, that is very damaging to the team," said Kiely.
"But it is up to Alan to instil a work ethic in the team and run the club the way he wants to.
"And he needs to do it quickly as he does not have the luxury of time."
That is especially true when you consider that Curbishley has just been backed by Magnusson.
Could that be the same vote of confidence Magnusson gave to Pardew, just before he handed him his P45?