Nigel: Frustration Understandable

Nigel Winterburn admits he could understand the crowd's reaction to West Ham's first half performance against Aston Villa on Wednesday night, when they booed the team off at the interval.

"Of course there were boos," says Nigel. "If I had watched that first 45 minutes I'd have been booing - people have paid a lot of money and show their opinions.

"When you see people working hard, though, you see what happened in the second half, and the crowd responded to our work rate. You can only encourage the fans and they got right behind us in the second half."

At one point during that frustrating first half, Nigel scampered across to the right touchline to put in a crunching tackle by the Chicken Run, and he explains: "I got frustrated - sometimes you have to try and take it upon yourself to get the crowd and other players going, but we need to do it for 90 minutes.

"We are disappointed with the result on the second half showing, but the first half was shocking and we deserved to go in behind at half time.

"We were a different team after the break with five or six good chances including the penalty and when you get those sort of chances in the Premiership you have got to score.

"We got a point in the end but we needed more."

He reveals the dressing room at half-time was fairly quiet, and adds: "There wasn't too much said. I think the players knew they had to do something, and it takes a lot of courage to go out when you have had such a poor half so credit to the lads for that.

"We have proved we can match the best teams but we have got to do it on a more regular basis."

As for that first minute Dion Dublin goal, he says: "It is a bad goal in a way because Jamo has kicked the ball out and it hasn't gone very far. I have tackled the guy but it took a ricochet forward and 90% of the time you wouldn't expect them to score, but it was a fantastic ball in.

"In the second half we created a lot of chances and we had another one blocked on the line. You start to wonder with eight or nine minutes to go if you will get a little bit of luck.

"In the end it wasn't luck but a fantastic finish by Jermain that showed what he is capable of doing.

"He is learning and if he keeps working hard it is going to be very difficult to leave him out - especially if he keeps scoring as well."

Although Paolo Di Canio's penalty miss had a bearing on the game, Nigel says he will not be volunteering in the future and adds: "I've missed one at Wembley and that is enough; there are better players than me to take penalties."

Nigel refuses to rule out Saturday's opponents Manchester United out of the title race, and says: "They were the best team in the country last season by a long way; they have had one or two little hiccups, but people are getting carried away saying it is the end of Manchester United - look at who they have got in their team.

"It might be a little bit different this year but it is not even halfway through the season and they are only six or seven points off the top.

"I was at Arsenal once and we were 18 points behind one season and still won the title so that shows what can be done - they are capable of winning 10 games on the trot, so we shall see."

He is looking forward immensely to the game and concludes: "I pride myself on playing against the best teams."