Tony: Pearce Can Be The Man

Tony Gale recalls that he has played against Ian Pearce as a striker - and hopes that the big man can make a job of his new role.

In the absence of Fredi Kanoute, Ian has been put up front to give the physical presence that Jermain Defoe can feed off, and Tony quips:

"I wasn't having a bet at 33/1 the other night against the Saints because I have seen him up front for Blackburn!

"He actually scored against me for Blackburn against West Ham when they played us the year before they won the league.

"He came on as sub, and went up front with Alan Shearer to score the winning goal in a 1-0 win.

"I am probably the only defender that has conceded against Ian Pearce when he has been playing up front.

"I thought he did okay, I must admit, against Southampton, and I thought you saw a lot more of Jermain Defoe because of Pearcey's presence up front.

"He was making a nuisance of himself and getting the flick ons, but I wish that when the boys got to the dead ball line they just swung those crosses in.

"They are still doing one or two passes too many, trying to be a bit fanciful, and you have got to take a risk.

"I know the confidence is low; you can see that in the shooting, but if you don't buy a ticket you don't win the raffle.

"When you have a big man in the box you have got to get it in there - pull it back on one foot or the other and get the cross in because something might bounce down for him or Jermain; don't have that one pass too many.

"He should have scored but he didn't do too bad; Joe was in that position behind the strikers where you would like to see him, central and able to go either way instead of being on either flank and cutting back on his better foot all the time.

"He got himself in a good position, and it was a nice little ball to Pearcey down the side of the defenders, but I think he was concentrating on hitting the target too much.

"I saw him afterwards and said 'if you hit the floor you score' but it was just a nice height for the goalkeeper to get."

With Paolo Di Canio absent for the next two months, Tony adds:

"I think it is a blow, not just for Paolo obviously, but for the squad.

"We are banking on Fredi getting fit and if Fredi or Jermain break down we have only got Titi and Ian Pearce as a makeshift striker.

"Glenn is going to need cover for January and I suppose it can't come quick enough for him.

"The transfer window is a nightmare; you might panic but you don't want to be signing players you don't need and loan signings seem to be the order of the day.

"Glenn will be forced into it by the way the lads have played; they are all in the boat together, and all accept responsibility together which is nice to see.

"If we weren't in this awful situation but we were sitting pretty in eighth or ninth spot there wouldn't be the worry that there is at the moment."

Tony, like Glenn Roeder, feels the Hammers should have won against Southampton, and says:

"The chances that we had in that Southampton game, had we scored them, would have altered the game and we would have seen a totally different West Ham side.

"Then you can afford to invite teams on to you and maybe play to the strength of hitting teams on the break.

"But there was no coming back from an injury time goal - and we badly need to get a first goal ourselves."

Speaking ahead of the Middlesbrough game - they lost 1-0 to West Brom recently - he adds:

"It was a bad performance from them last weekend but they are a much improved side.

"They play 4-4-2 but in a diamond as opposed to two wide players with Job in the hole, but he fractured his skull so he will be out, which might mean changing to a flatter back four.

"I think they would want to keep the shape of the side because not only have they got some decent results this year, but they have played in a more fluent manner.

"Last season they were very difficult to beat but they had their problems going forward; now they are still hard to beat with one of the best defensive partnerships around in Ehiogu and Southgate - but they are good going forward and have added a bit of pace to their side."

Tony feels that in the absence of Paolo Di Canio Joe Cole will have to assume extra responsibility, and he adds:

"You would hope that Fredi is back for the Manchester United game, but the injury to Paolo now really says to Joe, and I know he is only 21, that he can assume the mantle to provide that shot at goal or last pass."

Stressing that it is just a personal opinion, he says:

"I would play him in that position just behind two main strikers, two in midfield, Schemmel and Sinclair as wing backs, and three centre backs.

"But Glenn likes his formation with a back four, and I respect, that but I still think the insurance of a three would be something.

"I thought Tomas and Christian Dailly played well against Southampton and it was Tomas' best game of the season."

And, in what must be quote of the week, looking at two tough consecutive away games, he concludes:

"If we get something out of these games it will take a little bit of pressure off; it doesn't matter where the points come from, home or away - or in between!"