Steve: Carry On, Captain

Steve Lomas says he has no problems about Joe Cole carrying on as West Ham's captain as he did at Old Trafford last weekend.

In the absence of Paolo Di Canio, but the return of Steve on Saturday, people expected Joe to relinquish the armband, but he insists:

"At the end of the day it is the gaffer's decision, entirely up to him and after the last two seasons I have always said I just want to get back playing."

And that is Steve's main focus: to get through a spell of games without being injured.

"I thought I had got through it, playing 15 games on the bounce last season," he says, "then I missed all of preseason and all the first four games of this season.

"Then I came back and the team wasn't doing great, then I got injured again, so it has been somewhat stop start, and disappointing.

"It was my first game in five weeks on Saturday and it was always going to be difficult; they were on a bit of a roll and for them to get two in a minute just made the task enormous.

"I got a bang to the head late on which is why I came off, but I felt quite good in the game considering I had been out for five weeks and had only had a couple of days training."

He feels Jermain Defoe should have got a penalty early on but admits:

"In the first five minutes at Old Trafford, unless you carve somebody down with a chainsaw, you aren't going to get a penalty."

He also thinks Jermain's disallowed effort should have stood and adds:

"As for the 'goal', you can't really blame the referee, but I have got to say it is one of the worst decisions from a linesman I have seen in a long time.

"You don't get any worse than that - it was an appalling decision, and I am not saying we would have won, but it would have given us a hell of a lift if the goal had been given."

Looking at the upcoming programme, he adds:

"The lads want to do well and get off the bottom of the table; we have got massive two games coming up and it is all hands to the pump over Christmas.

"The lads are just looking to get a win at home first and hopefully take it on to Fulham - but we are not looking too far past Bolton at the minute.

"There are obviously still a lot of games but the longer it goes on the harder the task becomes, and Christmas is a big indicator."

Steve is hoping the second half of the season will be kinder in terms of injuries, and says:

"The squad has been shown up a bit but obviously it doesn't help when key players are out.

"Especially up front it has been shown with Fredi and now Paolo out for a long time, and basically you can't really go into a season with three strikers.

"It has been proved; it is always the way that the places that you are light you end up getting injuries in and where you have an abundance of players you don't seem to get as many injuries.

"Hopefully we can get some points on the board and Fredi will be getting back to full fitness soon so that will be a big bonus."

Nonetheless, he knows that Glenn is looking hard to bring in a new face or two in January, and adds:

"Possibly we will get a little injection, especially up front, and we hope that whoever comes in will do well.

"It has disappointed everyone where we are, and I think there are probably very few people who can probably say they have performed consistently at the top of their game.

"I know even when you are playing well you think you can do more - but in terms of consistency everybody can do better.

"That is something Glenn has been working hard on but it is up to the players; it goes without saying that with the results we have had that is basically where the problem lies."

As for the home form being so markedly different from the away form this season, he explains:

"Even if we had won half our home games we'd be sitting respectably in mid-table so obviously our problems are lying at home.

"Whereas away we are definitely competitive, probably more so than we have been for years.

"You don't go to places like Sunderland, Chelsea, and Fulham to win - not to mention nearly winning at Middlesbrough - without competing.

"Perhaps we suit playing away from home rather than at Upton Park where teams probably sit back a little bit and wait for us to break them down - that has been the frustrating thing.

"We have got to realise that we are desperate for points, as are Bolton, and it might not be the prettiest of games on Saturday."

He is not of the particular opinion that anything going on in the crowd will affect the match, and adds:

"I just think the players want to get on and do well to win games; it is not nice to be in this predicament and you have got to say we have underachieved so far."

He admits the aims of the campaign have now changed and adds:

"We started the season with high expectations, especially after the way things went at the end of last season.

"But we obviously have to re-think and the targets that we had set ourselves aren't realistic now - and we have got to get out of that bottom three as soon as possible.

"Three wins would take us well out of it but we obviously haven't been playing to our maximum and we know that it is going to be tough.

"The lads are very together and there are no real rifts or splits or whatever - but it is down to us.

"If we can cut out little individual mistakes it will be important; I think the Leeds game was the last one where that reared its head, and that since then we have eradicated them.

"If we can go on from there and just get that win at home it would be a big weight off the lads' shoulders.

"I think that has been a problem, though there are a lot of things that go into winning a football match.

"We haven't been able to get our noses in front, not that that makes you relaxed but it means you don't have to play catch-up all the time.

"When a team gets a goal it gives them an incentive, they can sit back, and try and hit us on the counter attack, which a lot of teams have this season.

"Getting ahead would give the lads a big lift, I think, and not just scoring one goal, but maybe two or three.

"They have some talented players like Djorkaeff and it is not going to be an easy game - but I am looking forward to it."