Cottee Confident

Upton Park goalscoring legend Tony Cottee shares Glenn Roeder's disbelief about the Hammers' failure to hit the net in open play so far this season but insists it is not all doom and gloom.

"I think the league table doesn't make pleasant viewing," he confesses, "but you have got to try and take the positives and say, apart from the Middlesbrough performance, they have been a bit unlucky not to get a few more points.

"It's strange because I thought looking at the squad if there was going to be a problem it was going to be defensively.

"Obviously David James is a great signing, and we still have Shaka in goal, but I did feel that possibly at the back we might get found out in the early games.

"That has been far from the case and it just weird when you look at the quality we have got in attack.

"I think things go in cycles in football and there are times when look as if you can't score in a million years  - then all of a sudden you get four or five against someone, and the goals start flooding back.

"Alternatively, sometimes you concede loads of goals then you keep a clean sheet for six games - it is funny how it works.

"It is very strange when you look at what we have got up front and in midfield that we haven't scored from open play this season."

The mitigating circumstance, of course, is that Fredi Kanoute and Paolo Di Canio have only played a few minutes together this season.

But, like Glenn, he knows they will have to work as a solid duo to succeed.

"It is difficult for those two," he says, "because they are both very individual players, and if you are looking in terms of a partnership you need them working off each other.

"I think perhaps Jermain might be a better strike partner for one of those two.

"To have a good partnership you have got to be working with each other and last season I felt there was some tremendous creative play, but not really anyone in the middle to finish the moves off.

"From what I have seen he might be the player to do just that. But I stress it is a personal opinion, and it is certainly not for me to tell Glenn what to do.

"There is probably room for all three in the team but Fredi and Paolo are not the type of penalty box players you need.

"Liverpool have got Michael Owen, Arsenal have bought Frannie Jeffers, Leeds have got Alan Smith, and these are the type of players who are going to win you games and push you up the league.

"Jermain is very much untried in the Premiership but he has done well for Bournemouth and the England under-21s and that experience will hopefully set him up in the Premiership.

"I have always been in favour of youth players, and unless you give a player a chance you never know how good he will be. If you are good enough you are old enough.

"You could always play Fredi with Jermain and Paolo behind but they would have to change to 3-5-2 and you would need to ask if Joe Cole could play a left wing back role.

"Jermain perhaps does need this season to adjust to the Premiership, but I can speak from experience and say it is very hard to come on as a substitute and make an impression.

"You will do it every now and then, but, and this is only my honest opinion, it is hard to show that consistency as a sub.

"Personally speaking, I think West Ham have always played better in a 4-4-2 and I would like it to stay that way - but three into two doesn't go, of course!"

Tactics aside, he is sure West Ham will bounce back, and adds: "It is not as if we have been playing absolutely rubbish and have looked like a relegation team.

"But you have obviously got to be careful when you are at the bottom of the table - and it is vital that you get that first win sooner rather than later.

"Leicester, Tottenham, and Middlesbrough have all got their first win recently and it gives the confidence a lift and can take you three or four places up the league.

"We are only four games in and it is not any time to press the panic buttons - everyone has got to believe in what Glenn is trying to do.

"It was always going to take a while for the players to get used to Harry not being there and Glenn taking over but once you get past those first six games the club really has to get those wins otherwise you get left behind."

But TC won't be coming out of retirement to help the goal drought. He says: "If there wasn't an offside rule I could play until I'm 50 because I would just stand in the six yard box and I would still get goals.

"But unfortunately you do have to run around a little bit and it was time to hang my boots up."