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2013-10-09T11:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:47:53

The Big Interview - Neil McDonald

It was a victory made at Chadwell Heath.

Tottenham Hotspur were swept aside by a three-goal salvo from West Ham United on Sunday, following a tactical switch which saw them operate a system which did not feature a recognised striker.

The unorthodox approach paid off as the home side could not come to terms with the Hammers' inventiveness and assistant manager Neil McDonald was proud that their meticulous planning had paid off.

Neil, Sam Allardyce labelled Sunday's game as his best result as West Ham manager. Presumably, you feel the same as assistant manager?

NM: "I think, with the way we went about it and the preparation we did, watching Spurs on a couple of occasions, we formulated a plan to try and frustrate them and then try to give us a little bit of space to counter attack in.

"It's great when a plan comes together of course. We do work very, very hard on the training ground, not just for the Spurs game, but for every game that we play. This is the second time that both ends have worked this season - we've kept a clean sheet and we've scored goals. We've been trying to do that all season and it's great when you beat a local rival.

"That gives everyone lots more confidence, the three points take us up the table, which is vitally important psychologically, and it has got us closer to the points total we set at the start of the season for the first eight games.

Keeping clean sheets and getting points away from home is no mean feat. Really, we should have four clean sheets out of four away, and I would have thought that would be unprecedented...

NM: "It would have been even better if we had scored a couple more goals, to complement the clean sheets as well. But, everything was right on Sunday, we played without a recognised striker, but we had lots of roatation, lots of drive, energy and pace in the team. When you have that rotation and somebody makes a forward run, you still keep your shape and you don't get caught out. That worked well."

Could you explain for us a little bit about the preparation work you do?

NM: "There's a lot of people involved. First of all, from the analysis side and the video side, which take a huge amount of time, to get their (the opposition's) strengths and weaknesses and trying to portray how they play.

"Then it's about formulating a gameplan on the training field as well as in the video room, to show them how we're going to break them down and use our strengths.

"It's a really good mix, and it all clicked into place. I wouldn't imagine many other teams would have played that formation, but it worked a treat. The balance was good and that was reflected in the 3-0 victory."

Back in the mid 1980s when you were coming through at Newcastle, there was a young midfielder who got a few plaudits - Paul Gascoigne - and he went on to have a career with England. Now, Ravel Morrison is receiving similar plaudits, so what can you say about his emergence?

NM: "I've stated before that he first came in from Manchester United thinking he could walk into the team, which would be very difficult because we have some very good players at the football club. He didn't really come into the mould, which is why we sent him out on loan, to play some games.

"He came back for this pre-season with a fantastic attitude, really focused on what he's doing and he has been accepted into the crowd. When you have the skill and ability in the final third, which everybody is looking for, then you've got one hell of a player. You need the players around him to pull and push him and I think certainly Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan, who have played the majority of games with him in the middle, have been a fantastic influence on him.

"He's been able to express himself when he's on the ball and we just need the end product. He did that in pre-season and he just needed to bide his time to get into the team. He's there now and he's producing, which is fantastic."

How do we approach the Manchester City game after winning at Spurs?

NM: "I think it gives you confidence, away from home, when you win against a top four side - they'll be a top four team or there and thereabouts, because of the money they've got and the quality of player that they've got.

"Taking points off top four teams are always classed as bonus points for us and it's the teams in and around us that we have to pick up as many points as we possibly can from. But it does give you huge confidence, so imagine what the confidence will be like if we can beat Man City. We'll be prepared for it like we were with Spurs and we'll be ready for them.

"We've lost our last two home games but they've been close games - three free-kicks have cost us - and if we can alleviate that we'll have a great chance. We've got on to the front foot, we play some really good football and we've started to score some goals, which is great."

I presume we can expect something interesting tactically again against Man City?

NM: "We'll keep our cards close to our chest, but that doesn't mean to say it'll be the same formation against Man City because we'll be at home. If Man City play exactly the same as Spurs then we'll take all that into account when we get all the information on them. The manager will formulate the plan and us as coaches will try to implement that on the training field. Everyone will be looking forward to the game."

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