Saturday, 28 February 2009

Acquaintances Renewed

Matthew Upson says he is relishing the prospect of facing Craig Bellamy when the hot-blooded striker returns to Upton Park for the first time since his move to Manchester City. Upson will have the job of quelling the Welshman who has scored four goals in seven games following a £14 million transfer and is confident he will not succumb to the pantomime villain's wind-up routines. Speaking in this morning's Telegraph, he stated: "I am sure Bellers will get a bit of stick from our fans and maybe he will be in my ear too but I don't take part in all that," the England centre-half said.

"He is very funny. He's gone to Manchester City and for all his faults, he has a desire to do well and to win. That stands out. He brings a lot to any team and has already made a big impact there, in the changing room which looks to be quite volatile at the moment. But it's what he's doing on the pitch that is most important. He doesn't care what people say or think. That's him. He's old enough now to know what is going to be said about his behaviour. The dressing room at West Ham is still good. Yes, he is a different type of character but we have adapted well. I'll probably be marking Craig and it will be good to see him. He's a good player, makes clever runs but we play against decent players every week in the Premier League."

Predictably, Bellamy is not helping the situation. He stated he would have 'bottled it' had he stayed at West Ham when Manchester City came calling and is relishing the prospect of a hostile reception when he returns tomorrow. "To me, it’s about not settling for second best," he said. "That’s why I came. I could be sitting at home now, still a West Ham player. Expectations on me and the club were completely different there. No disrespect but I don’t regret what I did. I’m happy, my kids are happy and so is my wife. This is a new test for me."

Upson and his colleagues will be aiming to put their FA Cup exit at Middlesbrough behind them as they aim to arrest a run of five games without a win. "We need to regroup and address what went wrong," Upson said. "We never got going at Middlesbrough and it was a real disappointment. We wanted to put on a good performance and it was a wasted opportunity to do something in the FA Cup. We may have been a bit jaded from last weekend at Bolton perhaps but this is the hard part of the season and we have to deal with it. There has been no room for squad rotation in the last few months but now we have to dig in and improve. We need to raise the standards of everyone around us. We didn't have the sharpness at Middlesbrough, we have been punished two games in a row now, both times by free-kicks. What made it worse was we had such an awesome away following. It felt twice as bad to lose, we had let the fans down."

After a decent run of results around the turn of the year, the Irons have now gone five games without a win. However, victory on Sunday could lift Gianfranco Zola's men back up into the top eight, and possible contention for a UEFA Cup place. "We are really dying for it [a win] again, and that is the kind of feeling we must have," said Zola. "The guys are not willing to sit on this too long and we are determined to put another run of good results together. We know what we are capable of achieving and will work very hard to make this happen."

To that end, insists Zola, he wants his side to focus on the game against City on Sunday, rather than worry about the return of Craig Bellamy to Upton Park. "I hope he [Bellamy] can have a good reception, but that is not down to me," said the West Ham manager. "However, it is not my concern. It is important we focus, I focus, on winning the game. He is a big player and he is one of the City players we will have to look after. But I have already spoken a lot about him leaving and now that is it on that subject."

Mark Hughes persuaded Gianfranco Zola to eventually sell Bellamy but insists the Welshman has nothing to prove. "People tried to make a nuisance of themselves, saying he was going on strike, which wasn’t the case," stated Sparky. "I hope his record against former clubs continues this weekend. He’s in fantastic form at the moment and so it’s a good time to play West Ham. If we can get him in the right positions and provide him with the right service, hopefully he can get us the goals. I think he’s a player who could play at any club in the Premier League and have an impact. He’s been a great signing for us. People say we paid £14million for him but actually it was nothing like that. It was more like £10million."

So Sunday will give Zola the chance to renew acquaintances with City boss Hughes. The Sardinian played alongside the Welshman when Chelsea won the FA Cup at Wembley in 1997. "It will be a pleasure to see him and to shake hands with him again," said Zola. "We were partners - and had a very good partnership together. When we were playing together, he always had the attitude and the qualities to be a manager."

While Hughes has a wealth of riches at his disposal now following City's takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, Zola maintains he is fully focused on getting the best he can from what he has available rather than worry about who might have more funds at other clubs. "I am really enjoying my experience here because I have got fantastic players," he said. "They are making it very, very enjoyable for me, so I do not envy anybody."

West Ham will be without midfielder Mark Noble for Sunday's game, as he serves a one-match suspension. Jack Collison looks set to return into the starting XI having been on the bench on Wednesday, but defender James Collins is still out with a hamstring problem. Luis Boa Morte (groin), Danny Gabbidon (stomach/back) and striker Dean Ashton (ankle) remain sidelined. Kieron Dyer is back in light training and will hopefully give West Ham a boost by returning to action next month. The injury-jinxed midfielder has played just five times since a £6million move from Newcastle 18 months ago. After returning from a broken leg, Dyer, 30, injured a calf but fears he needed an op proved groundless.

Team from: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker, Collison, Kovac, Cole, Di Michele, Lastuvka, Lopez, Savio, Spector, Tristan, Sears.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi all

Im new to the site. really looking forward to meeting new people, seeing what they have to say and just really chilling on some social network other than facebook. bleh. like i said, i am me, now who are you?

big respect, Dennis from [url=]Payday Loans[/url] website!


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari