Members of the media gathered at Chadwell Heath on Thursday morning as Sam Allardyce gave his pre-match press conference ahead of his side's game against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The Hammers boss answered questions relating to his team selection, the challenge of facing the Baggies and how many points he feels will be enough to keep West Ham in the Barclays Premier League.
Morning Sam, what's your team news ahead of the weekend?
SA: "We're ok. The squad's all fully fit. Unfortunately Matt Taylor's daughter is pretty ill at the moment so I don't think that he'll be available. He needs to look after his daughter at the minute, so we hope everything in that department is going to be ok. The rest of the squad, apart from Marco Borriello, is ok and ready to go."
Is your current points tally enough to keep you up, or do you still need a few more points?
SA: "Not really. We've always had the 40-point mark on our mind to be absolutely certain and probably 38. You never know, after the weekend it might be enough. The realistic fact for us is to go and get some points against West Brom, like we've tried so hard to get points out of the last three games but failed. In the last three games we haven't failed by performance, but we have failed by individual errors at a certain time and of course certain errors by the officials. They've cost us pretty dear as well I think.
"At the moment the rub of the green hasn't gone for us but performances at Liverpool particularly, and against Arsenal were good, but i think their clinical finishing finished us off. There was a penalty that was our fault against Crystal Palace, but not a penalty given on Andy Carroll which I thought was a certain penalty. That happens at certain times of the game but we have to keep the performance level high, be more resilient and determined to put points on the board with a performance level that allows us to get points."
I know you can't pick and choose when you get them, but would you acknowledge there's a heightened importance on this game, bearing in mind your final two opponents?
SA: "I think there's always a need for your team to gain points against teams who've been below you or certainly not lose against them. That became really apparent when we won at Sunderland a few weeks ago, that the distance we put between us and them was critical for us at that time. That's always been the case and it will certainly be the case against West Brom. The points against the bigger clubs are just your bonus, the icing on your cake. Competing against the teams around you to win and draw against them has always been critical in where you finish the season."
When the season has finished, is there any plans with the owners and yourself to review what you take from this season heading into next season?
SA: "That's the same every season. Last season was an over achievement and I think this season has been an under achievement up to now. There are certain circumstance as to why that's been the case, as we all know. They've all been documented, not just us a business but also publicly. It's been a tough one. The players and I are always learning and always know that we have to try to develop the team and move onto the next level. To change, but not change too much. You have to get value for money and quality players that are better than you've already got. That's just the process of this business if you want to improve and get better.
"The great difficulty today is that you're competing with everybody else in the financial market that sometimes is unbalanced. If we all had the same amount of money to start the season with, it would make it a much more even playing field but it isn't like that now. The growth of the wealth of the bigger clubs and what they can pay, certainly has a cascading effect going down to the players that you want. Sometimes the bargaining power between the end of the season and the start of the season is a very difficult game that you have to negotiate in. Whether you stand up and be counted in terms of what you want to pay, rather than what the player demands becomes a very difficult job indeed."
David Gold described the signing of Andy Carroll as 'Putting all your eggs in one basket'. If you took one thing from this season would you do that differently with your next transfer budget?
SA: "I think that depending on what players are out in the market it may be spread across the board a bit more, but that market may not allow you to do that. When one particular player comes and makes a play to come to your club with the size and talent of that particular player, then you go for him. You have to wait at that particular time and negotiate to see if you can move that player. I've said many times before that I think Andy's signing was one of the few players that we've signed that would have been number one or two on the list. Our list in each position is accumulated and then you try and start to move forward on that list.
"Very often the difficulties are that you get this player, that club wants this much, that's too much and then the players wants too much. It might be ok, then another club makes a better offer and you lose that one. It's a constant merry-go-round that we have to deal with in the difficult summer months. The reality for us is this, we're not mathematically safe so we can't put any of those plans into practice. We have the first draft if you like, but we can't react on any of that at the moment because we're not mathematically safe."
A point gained on Saturday will probably make you safe. With that in mind, how will you approach the game against West Brom?
SA: "There's a game plan that you plan out and you evolve a game plan in each particular match. In a lot of coaches minds' it's the same. When Everton played Manchester United at home they decided to employ defensive football first and play counter-attacking football second. Everton got a huge amount of praise for that, even though it wasn't the normal way that Everton play. They didn't have as much possession as Manchester United had, United completely dominated that. It's what the end result is, which is the important thing. They win 2-0, so they get a huge amount of praise for the tactics they employed because Roberto Martinez sat down and thought about whether Manchester United were going to come onto them.
"Maybe he took a leaf out of Tony Pulis' book and thought this may be the way forward after they struggled to break down Crystal Palace, as we did. It's to do with whatever tactics you need to use on the day to get the success that you desire. Real Madrid had less possession than Bayern Munich had last night but they won 1-0 at their home ground. It's using your brain and your experience on who you're playing against and how best to get a result against them. When you play against a big club and get a result, opposing managers have to find an excuse for being beaten by a team that's got fewer resources than them."
What challenge do you think West Brom will present on the weekend?
SA: "Really tough. They've had a resurgence and at their home ground they've been so close to so many victories and only slipped up in the dying seconds of two particularly thrilling 3-3 draws. We don't want to be in that position where we're trying to fight our way back from behind on Saturday. We want to be keeping a level playing field for as long as possible and our goal would be to do what we did at Sunderland, which was score the first goal and then go from there. The pressure in that game will be pretty intense because we all know what's at stake. We have to handle it better than West Brom.
"We don't want any major decisions going against us, but more importantly I don't want my players to start making the basic errors they've made in the last three games which have cost us very dear. Like I said, we've been very satisfied with overall performances, but at certain times mistakes have been made which shouldn't have been made and we've been punished heavily for them."
How difficult has it been to prepare the team with the events of the past week?
SA: "It's been hugely difficult. It's a massive blow to everybody that knew Dylan, because of how many times we've seen him fighting the intolerable illness. We had so much hope so many times by the determination he showed to recover from the treatment he had and recover from the disease he had. It looked so many times like he'd recovered. He was fit and training, never wanted to miss a day's training, but unfortunately in the end it's been a sad day for all of us, especially for the family. We're all very sad for his family and all very sad for them and sad ourselves, but we have to move on in terms of being professional in football terms, but not forget the memory of Dylan."
More to follow...