Captain's Call

Steve Lomas is hoping that West Ham's growth on the pitch can match the development off it.

With a 35,000 capacity scheduled for November, the skipper knows that it will be up to the new regime to ensure that the stadium is full - and host to winning football.

"The fans want those European nights that we had a couple of years ago on a regular basis and hopefully when the capacity is up to 35,000 we can fill those seats.

"The stadium is progressing and obviously the fans want the team to."

He is not as impatient as some to see the new man come in and says: "At the end of the day it is the board's choice - they run the club and have to think who can take the club forward because that is the main aim."

He admits that the season just gone was one of underachievement, explaining: "This season has been a blip really and it it's all about getting the team going again.

"If you look at it, we've had three seasons in the top ten, we've progressed, and the fans quite rightly believe we should be up there.

All of which contributed to Harry's departure? "I believe with the way the league is we should be a top ten team" he says, "we didn't achieve that, and there's one man that carries the can for that - and unfortunately it is Harry.

"Sometimes a change of manager can be good and sometimes it can be bad, but the onus is on the board to vet the right fellow and bring him in.

"But it hasn't gone as well in the season just gone as it has in the last three years, and I'm sure Harry's thoughts would have been for the club first and foremost and he would have done everything right."

All change is risk, however, and he adds: "But you can't please all the fans all the time; Joe Royle got Manchester City two promotions on the trot but still got sacked.

"Alan Curbishley got Charlton promoted and then they were relegated. They could easily have gone and got a new manager but they didn't, came back, and have had a very good season.

"Curbishley's name comes up with his West Ham connections but being a bright young manager he will get linked to many jobs, not just West Ham."

Indeed Steve has no preference about whether the new boss is a 'West Ham man' and says: "People say it should be someone with loyalty to the club but basically I just want the team to be doing well: if someone comes in and is an outsider I don't think the fans will be too bothered as long as we do well - I know the players won't be.

"It's all about results at the end of the day, and that's what the fans and the players and everyone else wants. But there's only so much that goes around which is why managers move on; it is getting so competitive even to stay in the division and the financial rewards are so big."

But he does hope the new man will not lose that Hammers sense of style and he says: "West Ham is renowned for playing good football, and all the best teams are  known for doing that, but you have to get it through to a winning team..."