Joe Sees Red

Joe Cole has admitted: "I feared a red card on Saturday."

Joe was only booked in the melee following the combative challenge from Leeds midfielder David Batty in the second half on Saturday.

Batty, of course, was sent off, and while David O' Leary predictably branded the decision 'ridiculous', Harry Redknapp, having studied the video evidence, says that he did catch him with his forearm and therefore had to go.

But what of the man himself? He denies David O'Leary's assertion that there was no contact and insists: "He just knocked into me with his elbow - it happens in football.

"I reacted a little bit, and it was a red for him and a yellow for me."

But generously, he concedes: "It was probably just accidental, I should think.

"David Batty is not the sort of player who would do anything intentionally - in midfield you are going to get tackles flying about and he is probably unlucky."

Things happen in the heat of the game and, looking back on it now, if I hadn't reacted I wouldn't have got a silly booking - but the red mist just came down."

Joe admits that he feared expulsion himself - the retaliating player often gets the same treatment as the original offender - and says: "When I saw that he got a red I felt that the ref might feel under pressure to even things up but I didn't feel I deserved a red; it was just handbags, just pushing."

Of the return of his friend Rio Ferdinand, he says: "I'd have loved him to be still playing for West Ham, but he's moved on; he had a good game and he is looking excellent. But you can't look back; he has gone now and we have to build a successful team.

"We need to push ourselves up the table and build a stronger side - there is money to spend and we've got to spend it right.

"Obviously everyone is a bit down but we are professionals and we have to pick ourselves up to put in a good performance next week.

"You can't change the past, only the present, and we have to stay positive."

That said, the immediate past, ie the performance against Leeds, while an improvement on Newcastle he says, was still not good enough:

"It was bad defending from all of us - it happens too much, we can't keep giving sloppy goals away. We have to be stronger.

"And we can't keep saying that we are too good to be down there: we are down there and we have got to grind some results out.

"We have to make sure we don't give away the early goal and stay solid, and then when the game opens up that's when our skill players can come into the game."