Gale: Blend Is Right

Tony Gale says that Glenn Roeder has got just the right blend of foreign and British players at the club.

In the wake of his second signing, from Slovakia, adding to the two Frenchmen and two British players the Hammers' boss has signed, Tony feels that Glenn is getting the balance correct.

"I think there always has to be a mix but you can look at our all British midfield with Joe, Michael, Trevor, and Don with Moncs sitting on the bench then coming on and doing well as he did at the weekend," he insists.

"We've got Nigel, Christian Dailly, David James, young Jermain Defoe...there is a fair mix at West Ham and I think it is important to have that mixture and not get too overloaded with foreigners."

With Ian Pearce and Steve Lomas set to return next month, the British contingent will be increased still further.

Financial constraints, though, mean Glenn has had to look further afield to bring in new faces, but Tony reckons the latest signing, Vladimir Labant, should settle in well.

"It sounds like a good signing," says Tony, "we know we need a left back because Nigel is probably in his last season now.

"They are not going in blind, they will have obviously spoken to Tomas Repka and Ludo about him."

Indeed it is the presence of those two that Tony point to as being a key factor in Vladimir leaving behind Champions' League football - he thinks they will help him overcome the language barrier and says: "It was a problem with Ludo when he first came because he was a keeper and that is the most important position not to have a language problem.

"I think Tomas has settled in great and it is a case of picking up pidgin English but the sooner they can learn the language the better, and the eastern Europeans are good at picking it up.

"Having Ludo on the coaching staff now will definitely give West Ham an edge in looking at players like Repka and the lad that is coming in.

"You sometimes sign these players wondering what you are going to get off the pitch as well as on it but what you generally find with Czech stars is that they are very professional.

"Repka has shown that in this very short space of time - he has settled in quickly to his job and the lads all seem to admire what a consistent performer he is, and that is the way you earn respect off other players, which is vitally important - by your performances on the pitch.

"It will be easier for Labant with Ludo and Tomas there but he will realise he has to learn the language - I just advise him not to use Ludo as a teacher!"

Tony does not see Nigel Winterburn complaining about the purchase of the Slovakian international, and adds: "I don't think it will put Nigel's nose out of joint and he may not even go straight into the side. It gives him a little time to get his feet under the table and that is the beauty of having Nigel around.

"But sooner or later they are going to have to look at him in first team action and if he is the business, then that's fine, and if he isn't you have always got Nigel there.

"It is a situation you always need, competition for places, and of course Scott Minto is there as well.

"It has been difficult for Scott with his injuries but I must admit I thought he did well when he played the left side of a three in the Ipswich game.

"But it is a case sometimes when a new manager takes over that he has to evaluate which positions he thinks need strengthening, and he has obviously identified that spot."

It had been widely expected that centre half was top priority for Glenn to add to, but Tony explains: "I think it is a case that if he is looking at central defenders, the ones he may be looking at are not available on the market.

"When a position that needs strengthening comes up you have to get him before someone else gets in; but this has not been an overnight thing and Glenn is not the type to go in willy nilly.

"With Labant, I think they have said the time is right, he's there, let's go and get him.

"The lure of the Premiership now is a great one both financially as well as the challenge it throws up every week, and I'm sure he will be looking forward to it."