Don Looks Ahead

Don Hutchison is relishing his first return to the Stadium of Light in a West Ham shirt - but admits he is still settling in at Upton Park.

"It is a game I am really looking forward to, especially as I will going back to my old club," he says.

"I really enjoyed my time up there and had a great relationship with the fans, so hopefully they will not be too awkward with me.

"I will definitely give them a wave but I'm not sure what sort of wave they will give me back! Whatever the result, though, I will give them a round of applause at the end.

"I was up there for a year and I don't want to say 'I wish I had been there longer' because that would show disrespect to our fans, and now my loyalties are with West Ham.

"I had a great year there and was Player of the Year, but Glenn paid a lot of money for me and I'll be concentrating on making sure West Ham get the win we need."

He says he is still adapting to West Ham's way of playing and adds: "I tend now to often watch myself in games on the video afterwards, especially when I am playing badly, and what I think I am doing at the moment is that when the wide men have the ball I am making runs into the box to try to score goals.

"When you play for Sunderland with the ball going into the box, you see Niall Quinn go for a header and you know he is going to win it, and nine times out of 10 you will get the ball to have a shot.

"It is a different style of football here - every one of our goals against Charlton was a great one and we feel we are scoring the perfect goals.

"Something I have got to get into my game is the positional side of it and sometimes I am getting in the box too early.

"It will be hard to score as many as I did last year but the gaffer has brought me to score goals and if I am not, I am not doing my job, so I will be trying as hard as I can."

It is clear he still has a soft spot for Sunderland and adds: "I speak to Peter Reid all the time and get on well with him. I have always said the best manager throughout my career was Howard Kendall and Peter is obviously friends with him, so they have a lot in common on that front.

"The fans are different class; you get 50,000 every week and there is a lot of pressure on the players but they absolutely love playing there.

"We know the way Sunderland will play; they work ever so hard and put balls into the box and if diagonal balls come in to Quinny he will win nine out of 10, so it is all about winning the second ball.

"When you have someone like Quinny, or someone who jumps like Les Ferdinand, it is obviously going to be hard and sometimes you have to take it on the chin and concentrate on winning that second ball.

"It will be an interesting game for a lot of us but a game we have got to try and win; there is a bit of pressure on us and Sunderland will be desperate to win as well, as they are only a point ahead of us.

"The pressure is from ourselves because we have shown how good a side we are when we work to the maximum; if we get back to basics and win games 'properly' as I call it, by one and two nil instead of 4-3 and 4-4 then I'm sure we'll be fine."

The players studied the video of the Charlton game on Wednesday and Don says: "We looked at the Charlton game today and every goal was an error by someone; the gaffer was not trying to single anyone out but just saying 'you made a mistake there, don't do it again' and I think that is the only way you learn.

"Sometimes it is too easy to brush it to the back of your mind and the way to learn is to actually see it and as long as everyone holds their hands up when they make a mistake that is the main thing.

"I was disappointed that night; it was the worst I had played for a long time and I had no complaints about getting taken off.

"To be honest it is the first time in my career I have ever expected it; I looked at the board and I saw my number and there was nothing I could do.

"I nodded my head as if to say I didn't play so well and Joe and Lomy did really well when they came on.

"I just have to try and get my form back on track; I'm an experienced player and when I came off no one was jumping up and down on the bench any more than me when we went 4-3 up because I'm just desperate for us to win games.

"Gone are the days when you expect to play 40 or 50 games in a season; if we get to Europe it won't be because of anyone doing that it will be because of everyone playing their part.

"The Charlton game was such a rollercoaster of emotions; no one was more pleased for Kits than the players and the gaffer because he worked so hard.

"If someone says you will be 4-3 up with two minutes to go you'd have taken that, and everything was set up nicely with Jermain scoring against his old club as well.

"The gaffer was looking at the tape with all the players and for instance Foxey said he could have done better in the air, but had to make a split decision, and these things cost games."

Don feels his form should improve now his home life is improving, and he explains: "I feel a different person after moving into my house last week and I was saying to the lads this morning I have trained the best I have trained for two or three weeks.

"I have finally got out of the hotel and am settling down; it is all about circumstances and the first couple of days in a hotel is great but all of a sudden you find yourself training and going back and lying on your bed with nothing to do for two or three hours.

"Now I am in my own place doing my own thing and I feel sharper for it; I was painting and decorating until midnight last night!"

Looking back on the move from the north east, he says: "Once the fee is agreed it normally happens overnight for a footballer; I have no regrets and I'm enjoying my time down here."

As for the defeat on Saturday, Don admits: "In the Tottenham game the gaffer said he couldn't fault anyone's effort and we played well enough in the first half, but London derbies are always tight and in the end they might have scored two when we were pushing bodies forward to get the equaliser.

"It was a frustrating game and we all knew it would be a bit like the Fulham game, a hard one, because Tottenham are a good passing side and probably shaded it on the day.

"The players don't like it and the gaffer doesn't like it; we have set high standards at home but away we have conceded 22 goals which is not too clever.

"We had been doing quite well at home, only conceding four, but we have got to get the home and away form sorted."

Don did not play in the FA Cup fifth round tie which the Hammers won at Sunderland last season, but he remembers: "I watched the cup tie and West Ham definitely deserved to win it; they created the better stuff and created the better chances."