Nigel: It's A Battle

Nigel Winterburn has warned fans that the next few games at Upton Park might not be pretty.

The Hammers face Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, and Everton in the next three home encounters - all teams below the Hammers in the table.

And, as with the narrow win over bottom side Leicester at the weekend, Nigel thinks the battles ahead might not provide a pure spectacle.

"Those are the hardest games in my opinion to play in and get results, when a team is bottom and fighting for their lives," he says.

"I don't think the fans were frustrated on Saturday; I think they got behind us very well, and it is not always going to be pretty and entertaining.

"Leicester play to a system, and play it very well - we had break it down and defend at the end.

"There were a lot of good points from the game and when people look at the league table it shows West Ham won, which is what matters."

Playing teams battling for their very status adds a real edge to the game, thinks Nigel, who explains:

"The only place to play is in the Premiership; some of the players probably realise if they go down they may not be at Leicester too long, because Premiership wages are a lot higher than in the first division."

A defeat at the weekend would have left Leicester just six points behind West Ham, but now, says Nigel, it is time to start aiming high.

"It cements our position in the league and we want to be looking up it now," he says.

"I think when you get on a good run you start to look at the teams above you, and I think at the moment we are on one of those runs; we don't want to look at the bottom and we, as a group of players, are looking at teams above us.

"It was very nervous last season and we didn't secure it until the end - it was too close to call, and we don't want to get dragged back down there this year.

"But it is very tight from the top to the bottom and if you put two or three wins together you can go from the bottom half to the top; we realise that we have got some important games coming up that can push us up the league."

As for the Paolo Di Canio saga, he admits:

"I don't know what is happening; it is very difficult for me to answer, but at the end of the day there is only one or two people who know what is happening."

What Nigel does know is that the offer from Manchester United for his services was well below his true value, and he adds:

"When you talk about £1.5m, that is an injustice to West Ham; people say he is 33 but he can play for another three years, easily, and you can't buy a player in the first division for that money.

"Someone went from Stockport County for £1m last week and that puts it into perspective.

"He hasn't said a word to us and I am as in the dark as anyone else what will happen, so we shall just have to wait and see.

"He is a fantastic player and, with his ability when he is on top form, you can't buy that sort of thing.

"He is part of the team and anyone I go out with on a Saturday and play with for 90 minutes I will give my all for."

As for the weekend fixture at Stamford bridge - the first of three away days on the trot - he says:

"Any London derbies are hard and Chelsea will be no different, but we have been playing well and we have got to go there with confidence and believe we can win; it is no good going anywhere in the league and being scared.

"We beat them earlier in the season and I think we can do it again; but we respect Chelsea because they are a fantastic team."

If West Ham do win it will be the first 'double' of the season, but Nigel insists:

"I'm not really worried about doing doubles over teams; it is all about picking up points in the league and the Chelsea game gives us the chance to do that."