Steve Happy To Stay

Steve Lomas could well become one of the last players in the Premiership to earn a testimonial - if he extends, and fulfils, his Upton Park contract.

Not, it must be said, that Steve is looking for a pay rise - it is simply a measure of his contentment at the club that leads him to say: "I have four years left on the contract which would end nine years and three or four months after I joined, and it would give me great pleasure to play that time for West Ham - the first five years went quick enough and hopefully we will get a bit of silverware in the next five.

"I think I am probably the type of player that was never destined to move about an awful lot. I did seven years at Manchester City and some more at West Ham would do me fine."

Steve was courted by Everton and his old club Manchester City last season, and given permission to speak to them, which he did out of courtesy, but he explains: "I had my chance to go last season and the offers that were made to me were financially very good, let's just say way above what I am on now, but sometimes you have to decide for other reasons.

"I like the club and where I live and the other side of it was that Everton and Manchester City were struggling, which also comes into play.

"But I never once indicated I wanted to leave - and that was the disappointing thing about it.

"I never wanted to leave the club. At the end of the day it was the manager's decision I suppose but there is no point in me getting upset now - things have been done, we have a new manager and maybe now the board realises the decision was maybe the wrong one."

Although Arsenal's Patrick Vieira is getting all the plaudits, Steve says that Roy Keane is still the man to emulate.

"I've always enjoyed all aspects of the game," says Steve. "I enjoy defending in the box and getting headers and tackles in.

"As a midfielder you have to do all those things and Roy Keane is the benchmark for everybody because he can score goals, he can defend, he tackles and he is a good passer with a good touch.

"Patrick Vieira is coming good and the young lad at Liverpool, Gerrard, is an all round midfielder but Roy has come back from a bad injury as well and for myself knowing what that is like makes you respect him a little bit more."

As for the Arsenal game, he adds: "This is their game in hand and it is going to be very difficult as it could put them four points clear, and they probably see us as a bit of a soft touch with our dodgy away form.

"They have got a lot to play for but obviously so have we and we have to do our utmost to play well in respect for all the other teams in the league.

"Whenever you are playing, it isn't like a tap. You can't just turn it off and decide when you are going to play or not - it doesn't work like that and if you think it is going to be an easier game you will end up not playing as well personally and as a team.

"In the Premiership, as a side, we are not good enough to play 75% or 80% and expect to win games. It is only fair that you do your best in every game, then it is a fair league.

"I have been in the same boat with Manchester City where teams have gone to mid-table sides and got a result at the end of the season.

"Coventry stayed up the season I got relegated with Manchester City, and if you look at how they got results, it was just totally ridiculous.

"You want to finish as high up in the league as possible because we've had a seventh, ninth and fifth, and last year was a big disappointment.

"The second half of last season was pretty poor to say the least and the cup run masked the problem of the way we were playing overall - which was not good enough."

Steve, on a run of three goals in six games, is certainly enjoying his football after a year of injury problems, and he explains: "It is the first time in a long while that I have had the chance to play 4-4-2 and get the licence to go forward. I was more of a defensive, holding midfielder when I did get the chance to play midfield before.

"But I enjoyed playing this way for Manchester City. Me and Garry Flitcroft used to play this way with two wingers, and it gives you the chance to get forward into the box from midfield.

"I should have had another goal on Saturday, a free header which I put straight at the keeper - it was a pretty easy chance.

"That is what I have always liked doing. I was brought up that way at Maine Road and it has gone back to the old days, really.

"Basically what hindered me was playing all over the shop - right wing-back one minute, right back the next, right sided centre half, central midfield, and it was getting to the farcical stage of playing up to four positions in a match, and that was no good for me.

"It is a difficult situation because when a manager asks you to do it, you do, but it was often because I was captain. Maybe it was my fault for letting it drag on too much instead of saying 'hold on a minute, I don't mind doing it, but you are taking the mick a little bit'.

"It is pretty hard for a player, because if your manager asks you to do it for the sake of the team you feel obligated, but in the long run it wasn't helping me, so I'm glad that Glenn sees me as a midfielder and that is the way I want it to stay.

"If he needs me to fill in occasionally when there is a desperate need, I don't mind doing it but on the whole I see myself as a midfielder and always have done.

"Every now and again it is not a problem and you do that, but you do it out of appreciation for your manager and respect for him.

"I certainly had respect for Harry but there is a case where advantage of my good nature was being taken, a case of 'good old Steve, filling in a position that no one else wants to'.

"It would even get to the stage of playing right wing-back against a team playing 4-4-2 with an out and out winger, and it made the task unbelievably difficult because you had a winger to deal with, a full back possibly overlapping, and you were expected to try and get forward as well, and it got to a stage where that really rankled me, when it was out and out wingers.

"Sometimes Trevor would get moved to a different position and I would be there, and it was even more difficult.

"I have enjoyed getting in there for the goals, and, as I think Joey has learned, you go on little sprees and things fall for you - unfortunately he had one disallowed on Saturday.

"Alan Ball used to say to me when he was manager at City - and he was a very good coach - 'if you and a midfield partner get in the box six times each half, that is 24 runs into the box' and the law of averages says something will fall for you over the course of the season.

"Fredi, Paolo, and Jermain have been the main goal getters. Frank Lampard obviously weighed in from midfield when he was here but the way we played was designed for him to get in the box, whereas he is probably now saying it is harder to score from the midfield as a two.

"When we played five he could always run into the box, and to be fair to him he did well and notched quite a few goals."

Because Steve has been playing professional football for some time now, he thinks people tend to put a few extra years on him.

"I have only just turned 28 and I am as fit as I have been for a while, so hopefully with a good pre-season and a run free of injuries, not to mention playing the same system, it would possibly suit me for a few more years," he says.

"I keep reading conflicting reports in programmes that I am 31, 30, 29, and maybe I look that old but I feel the way things are going now and the modern way we are looked after I can keep going. We have a sports scientist now and we are looked after in the best way.

"I can't speak highly enough of the medical staff - you really appreciate a physio when you have been out a long time and John Green and Simon Webster have been excellent.

"Their rehabilitation programme is second to none, and they always get you to see the best surgeons."

Let's hope he steers clear of the physio's room for a while now - Steve certainly deserves it.