Tony Looks Ahead

Tony Gale thinks that Paolo Di Canio could relish a move to Old Trafford.

"I think that Paolo is a big fish in a small pond at the moment," he says, "but if he goes to Manchester United he'd just be another player - and I think it would do him the world of good.

"If West Ham get the money that they want it could be a good sale. The lads have proved that they can play without him, albeit that it is only over a few games, but certainly he has been a brilliant player, particularly in the home matches.

"I think he does it in fits and starts for his clubs. He has been at nine clubs and for the next two years he could be a really good signing for Manchester United.

"I think he will be fine up there, he will love that stage with 60,000 or more every week and Champions' League football, and it is very hard for a player to say to no to a club like that.

"It is also very hard for a club to say to a player at that stage of his career, 'no, you can't go there.'"

Tony thinks Manchester United will be back in with an improved offer, and says: "I see it as inevitable if Manchester United stump up the cash. I don't think West Ham are going to be in a hurry to sell if the money is not right so the closer it gets to Champions' League time again the more that Alex Ferguson is going to want him, especially if Dwight Yorke is going.

"It represents a gamble, but not a massive one, and thickens up the striker equation for them.

"You are not going to get another Paolo Di Canio in for £3.5m but it might be best for both sides.

"I think we have got the best out of Paolo. He was an inspired signing by Harry, who dived in when not many people wanted to take the risk, and for two years that's what you get out of Paolo - brilliance.

"But there have been great players in the past that have left West Ham and West Ham have got on with it. Bobby Moore, Alan Devonshire, Trevor Brooking, Paul Ince, Billy Bonds, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard - people said it was the end with those two going, but the club has moved on."

As for the weekend action, Tony says: "It was a tough old game, and not the best of spectacles, at Filbert Street, and there wasn't a lot to get inspired about.

"They are not the easiest side to play against and depend a lot on set pieces. As with all sides that are struggling, they really try to stop the goals before they attack.

"It is similar to a lower division side in that they really pummel that penalty area, but that is not to say that they don't play with any skill with players like Wise, Savage, Impey, and Izzet.

"It is not going to be an easy game but if we play the way we have been playing I think we will get all three points."

Tony feels it is vital to avoid unnecessary bookings following the sending off of John Moncur for two bookable offences within seconds at Macclesfield last weekend, and adds: "If Moncs plays it will just be the same again, but he has got to be very careful after last week - and he doesn't want to be wound up.

"I know what John is like. He likes to play aggressively, and I thought he was playing really well - he had about three or four shots and at one point he looked like being our best bet to score a goal, even though he hasn't got a great scoring record.

"But when I saw him dive into the tackle I thought it would be a yellow, and I felt the referee was looking to add a few West Ham names to the book - I didn't think Repka's should have been a booking.

"As soon as John reacted by trying to pull the lad up by his shirt, I feared the worst - and it was.

"Everyone is in the same boat at this time of year with suspensions but when you have got a thin squad it is important that you don't get unnecessary bookings."

Tony firmly believes everything is going in the right direction, and concludes: "If you'd have said, having sold Frank Lampard and having played the teams that we have played, that we'd have the points on the table that we do now, I think things are looking healthy.

"It is all dependent on the players staying fit and free from suspensions. If we can get our best 11 or 14 out there I think we have got an outstanding chance of making Europe."