Gale - Force A Win

Former Upton Park legend Tony Gale has spoken exclusively to the newsletter as Hammers prepare to face Blackburn Rovers on Sunday - and insists that Glenn Roeder's men must get a result at the ground where Galey himself enjoyed a fairytale ending to his top-flight career just over six years ago.

The stylish defender was a part of Kenny Dalglish's Premier League Championship winning team in 1994-95, just a year after he had left the Hammers on a free transfer.

However, Rovers are a much-changed team now, with Graeme Souness having led his young side up from the first division and Gale admits they have a long way to go before they can be compared to the class of '95.

"There isn't a single existing member from the Championship team at Blackburn now. Jeff Kenna was the last to leave and Graeme has built a very young side who did well to win promotion last season.

"He is still looking to add to what he has got, though, and they are far from having the quality to establish themselves in the higher reaches of the Premiership table this season."

For the Hammers, it will be a chance to make up for the nightmare of their last two away matches at Middlesbrough and Everton, and Tony admits it is vital that the team banish the blues from Goodison two weeks ago.

"Losing 5-0 to any team is hard to bear, but losing 5-0 to an ordinary side is unacceptable. I spoke to Mark Ward recently, who covered the game for Capital Gold, and he said how disappointed he was that heads appeared to go down in the second half.

"That can't happen, we can't slip into that old pattern of falling apart away from home and relying on the home form to keep us out of trouble, because we will end up in the same position as last year.

"The likes of Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn are teams that will be finishing in the lower half of the table and, if we have any hope of rising above them, we need to be taking points off them on their own grounds.

"Blackburn have a good young side, with a few exciting individuals, but there is nothing there that should frighten West Ham, and it is the type of match we should be looking to get three points from."

Galey also suggests that a change of style may be required, and lists the memorable FA Cup victories last season as the type of performances needed to improve our results on the road

"It may be that, away from home, we need to change the system to make it more solid and harder to break down, by playing five in midfield for example.

"That would mean perhaps moving Joe Cole inside and playing Paolo Di Canio on the left, as he did in the FA Cup at Manchester United and Sunderland last season.

"It may not be his favoured position but I am sure he would be happy to do a job for the good of the team. At the end of the day, points are the most important thing and I am sure that Glenn would prefer to grind out a scrappy 1-0 win at Blackburn rather than play entertaining football but come away with nothing."

One bright point for Glenn Roeder in the build-up to Sunday's match is the likely returns of Joe Cole from injury and Tomas Repka from suspension, as Tony agrees.

"That will be a boost to the team because Joe is an important player and gives you the extra work-rate and determination you need away from home.

"It will also be good to see Tomas Repka come back - he is the type of solid and unspectacular defender we badly missed at Everton and, despite Hayden Foxe being fit, I would expect Glenn to keep Christian Dailly alongside him after they played so well together against Newcastle."

And, as far is Galey is concerned, the task is clear as Hammers attempt to pull away from the bottom of the Premiership table.

"We've got to get a run of good results together, starting with a victory at Blackburn on Sunday.

"There is a job to do, and all 11 players have got to do it. It's no good just blaming the defence, because the players in front of them are also involved. We need to defend from the front and win the ball in their half where we can cause damage.

"People say that you are never too good to go down, but I truly believe that West Ham have got a team of players who should be finishing in the top half of the table.

"It's about belief and working for each other, and if they can get that right, there will certainly be no repeat of last season."