Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Still, We Believe

Lucas Neill believes that West Ham United will have a significant part to play in the Barclays Premiership title race and the quest for Uefa Cup places, despite their battle against relegation. Personally, I would settle for the team just playing some kind of part in the Premiership full stop, either this season or next, but that is looking an increasingly forlorn hope. In an article in The Times, the Irons captain-in-waiting admits to being frustrated by the result at Bramall Lane. "Obviously we are very disappointed by the result" said the defender, who signed for £1.5 million from Blackburn Rovers in January. "We had an opportunity to go above Sheffield United and make things a little more comfortable on the run-in. But as it stands, I believe we still need three wins and we’ve got five games in which to do it. Three of the matches are at home and are all winnable. Then we have a very important away match at Wigan before a trip to Old Trafford on the final day of the season. There is still so much to play for and it is important that we don’t lose heart."

The Daily Mail also carries the story and quotes Neill as saying: "We have to bounce back immediately and react quickly. And it is great to have a home game against Chelsea because it is a chance to lift ourselves again. We have to realise there are still 15 points to play for and we have to fight for every single one of them. We can still end up smiling at the end of the season." Just as the Australian puts the convict into conviction, so manager Alan Curbishley seems to be unwavering in his belief. He told the official site: "Things can still change dramatically by Saturday. We've been handed three tough games inside a week and after playing Chelsea on Wednesday, we've then got to recover in time for the Everton match. Who knows, we could still get six points from our next two games and we've got to go into both of those home matches giving it our best shot, trying to win and expecting to win. "

Mark Noble is also on message. The youngster has pleaded with West Ham’s fans to turn up the heat on Chelsea at Upton Park tomorrow. "We need all the fans to get behind us and make it a cauldron in there," he said. "I want them to make as much noise as they can to spur the boys on. We always start brightly at home and must give it everything." The atmosphere at the Boleyn is something clearly on the minds of at least two Chelsea players. Joe Cole is expecting a barrage of abuse when he makes his first return to the club since he moved across London. He is quoted in The Sun as saying: "I would imagine I’ll probably get some stick but that’s football. Supporters don’t like to see their players leave the club." Elsewhere, Frank Lampard predicts a red-hot reception and 'a bit of a war' tomorrow. He states: "West Ham are desperate for points and got a bit of a lifeline at the weekend because the teams above them didn't win. It will be a hot atmosphere and we cannot afford to lose points in the title race. It is important we make Manchester United realise that we won't give up."

In transfer news, Martin Jol has been linked in a couple of places with a £15million double swoop for Nigel Reo-Coker and Curtis Davies, while Sky Sports insist Carlos Tevez is wanted by new Corinthians coach Paulo Cesar Carpegiani. It is not until you read the quotes contained within that you realise the entire story is little more than a popcorn fart.

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