West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce was in chatty mood ahead of Monday's Barclays Premier League fixture with Stoke City - a game for which less than 250 tickets remain available.
The Hammers welcome the Potters to the Boleyn Ground knowing victory will keep them in the top-six ahead of a run of matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion.
Speaking to the press ahead of Monday night's sell-out clash, Big Sam spoke of the need to continue picking up points, Stoke's strong defensive record and the high number of goals in the Barclays Premier League this season.
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Do you feel West Ham United are getting the credit you deserve for your strong start to the season?
SA - "I don't really know, to be honest. All that we're happy with is our own performances and results. The lads are just trying to make sure we continue where we left off against Newcastle and try to beat Stoke City on Monday and continue to load up the points as quick as we possibly can. The confidence is good and I think the only problem we've got at the moment is injuries. I think overcoming these injuries and continuing to get results is going to be our biggest problem. What other people are saying, the players don't seem to be too interested in. We are getting some good publicity and rightly so because of the position we're in being a newly-promoted side into the Barclays Premier League."
Have you personally had enough credit for what you've achieved so far?
SA - "I think so. I think that, at the end of the day, when you continue to get results then people cannot ignore what you're doing, both as a manager and a group of players and coaching staff. From our point of view, most of us have been here [in the Barclays Premier League] before - certainly I have for a long time and we know the position we're in is a very good one. But we know only a quarter of the season has gone, it's early days and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season. If we're around this position going into the last six or seven games, then that's a great season. At the moment, it's a great start and that's all it is."
You have a tough run of games coming up, so is it important that you already have so many points in the bag?
SA - "We thought the tough run of games started with Wigan away and then Man City at home and Newcastle away, but we've picked up four points in those three games. The tough phase has already begun for us and, after Stoke on Monday we go into a run against the other big boys. We've coped very well so far and I hope we continue to cope on Monday night because that's a big game for us. We want to continue our home form and home results and get a very important three points against a well-experienced and well-organised team with a really good manager."
Are you happy with Andy Carroll's all-round contribution?
SA - "Yes. We all want, particularly Andy himself, our centre forward to score goals, like any forward that plays the game off football. I'm convinced that he will put the ball into the net and that will hopefully start him on a good run. At the moment, his partnership with Kevin Nolan is one of the key elements in us continuing to do well. Our attacking play has been good because we can play off two players who are playing very well at the moment. That gives us more opportunities to go and attack the oppositon on a regular basis. Even away from home, it wasn't a case of just sitting back at Newcastle. Our passing percentage was as high as theirs, we had as many passes as they did and we got into the final-third an awful lot - probably more than people expected at Newcastle. Those two players hold the ball up and let us express ourselves from there, so they're doing a good job. Yes, we'd like our frontmen to score more goals, but the most important thing at the end of a game is the result, not who has scored."
West Ham United and Stoke City have good defensive records, but there have been a lot of goals scored in the Barclays Premier League this season. Do you feel there has been a change in philosophy and the game has become more attacking?
SA - "From a professional point of view, I think the defending in the Premier League is not as good as it used to be and I think that's why there have been more goals scored. I think that side of the game has diminished rather than improved over the last few years. From an entertainment point of view, that's a fantastic situation because more goals are being scored than ever before. As a manager and as a professional it's not my cup of tea to tell the players to not bother too much when they haven't got the ball and not worry about defending too much because we'll score more than the opposition.T hat's not the way to approach the game because the best teams and the teams that win the most have the best defensive records. Getting both defending and attacking right are critically important for me in terms of establishing ourselves in the Premier League."
Considering Stoke City's mean defensive record, do you envisage Monday's game being a particularly difficult one in terms of breaking down the opposition?
SA - "Yes I do. I think that, as always, Tony Pulis's team are well-drilled and disciplined in the way they want to play. I think that they get the defensive side of it right, as I try to do as well. I think the improve in the quality of their players has made them an established Premier League side now. I think Tony probably thinks they are under-achieving a bit at the minute with the team he has built over the last few years. He had a more difficult start to the season in terms of fixtures than we did, so I'm sure they'll get back to winning ways, but I hope it's not on Monday!"
Is it fair to make comparisons between yourself and Tony Pulis in terms of footballing philosophy?
SA - "They are not the same. I'm an individual and nobody copies me and I don't copy anybody else. I don't play like Tony. We have different systems. We have the same philosophy in terms of we both want to defend well and make sure our team is organised and understand what's needed to be done in terms of game-plan. We both also have to maximise our resources to make sure that the club is successful. When you look at what Tony has done, Stoke fill their ground every week and have been doing so for years now. They want to increase their capacity, so that's a measure of what Tony has done for Stoke City."
Are Stoke City the benchmark for establishing a club in the Barclays Premier League?
SA - "I think that it's true that Tony Pulis has had a great relationship with his owner and that relationship has borne fruit, particularly because they have backed him and know that they can trust him. I think that trust has given him the finance to build year-in, year-out and that has made them what they are today. They have improved every year in terms of the quality of player that they have brought in. I think that's why they've been successful, along with the team spirit they have and how organised they are. That relationship, buying wisely and maximising resources has borne fruit for Stoke City."
Mark Noble has said he is playing the best football of his career. Is an England call-up a realistic proposition?
SA - "Well, he is only 25. He's not at his premium age yet. Mark is our longest-serving player at West Ham and is still only 25. I still think he has a good chance because he has time on his side."