Praise For Defoe

Jermain Defoe has been dubbed 'the black Michael Owen' - by the man who is competing with him for a place up front.

Paolo Di Canio is full of praise for the way Jermain's career is progressing, especially after his second goal against Manchester United this season gave the Hammers brief hopes of a revival on Saturday.

"I call him the black Owen; he is exactly the same, and I think West Ham are very lucky as a club because they have found someone with pure talent," says Paolo.

"When I go back to Italy the season after next I will buy a Sky decoder and watch West Ham, and especially Jermain, every game.

"He is a special talent and we have to help him grow up in a good way so he can play for West Ham, and, I hope, England in the future.

"Then I will be supporting West Ham even more."

Another goal from the bench from Jermain at the weekend confirms that Glenn Roeder is right to use him as a substitute still when Fredi and Paolo are fit, and Paolo adds:

"I am not yet a manager and it depends on what Glenn wants; he is an incredible footballer for the future and could earn West Ham a fortune.

"He is a very good finisher, but he is young; I understand the media and the supporters are not patient, and when they see something, they want to see it quickly.

"But it is not easy; Jermain will have his chance, he is only 19, he ready to play because he is a very good lad, an intelligent boy, and an amazing footballer.

"But I think Glenn has used him very well; sometimes he plays three games in a row from the off, sometimes he comes into a game not under pressure.

"At his age I didn't find it easy to play from the kick off because, although everyone will cheer you for the first three or four games, they will say you are not mature enough if you miss a goal after 10 matches.

"But very soon he will have his time to play every game and I think sometimes we can also play with three, with me behind, especially at home.

"But this depends on the manager, and not me, though Jermain knows he is important - he knows that he has put the base in for the future to become one of the great players in England.

"He is intelligent and he can handle the situation but sometimes the media are quick to put lads down; you can do it with me and it doesn't matter, but for young players it is very important, because they feel it the first time they are criticised in the newspapers.

"Everybody in the team tries to help him every day."

As for the 5-3 defeat by Manchester United, Paolo says:

"We put them in trouble for 45 minutes but once again we conceded not just one but five very silly goals, and it is not very good.

"Every single goal was a gift from us but if you give that opportunity to Manchester United they kill you because every single player is fantastic, and they have so much quality as a squad.

"You can't give them those sorts of chances but we worked very hard to score our goals, and it is difficult when you score three goals against them and you think that you have to score six to beat them.

"They were very good and they are a fantastic team, the best in Europe, as they confirmed against us.

"We gave them a chance to score too easily for a team of their quality and now we have to win every game remaining such as Ipswich at home, and teams like that.

"It was an amazing atmosphere at Upton Park and I felt sad that we lost.

"In the first half an hour we played fantastic football and didn't let them play the way they wanted; we pressed them hard in their half and they were in a difficult situation.

"But you can't keep on in this way, especially at the end of the season, for 90 minutes against them because they are so good; but at any time of the season it is difficult to put them under pressure for 90 minutes.

"They have so much amazing technique and special players like Beckham and Keane, so it was very difficult; but we can take some positives from it like the fact that we scored three goals to confirm that at home we always create chances.

"Unfortunately we conceded five goals after only seven all season and this made everybody in the dressing room very upset.

"But now we have to look at the next home game which is Ipswich, and if we win that I think we will really be safe.

"After the first half everybody felt we should go on and get a positive result but after the break, to be honest, I felt we didn't have so much strength in the middle of the field; I don't know why, maybe because they had fantastic possession.

"Then, after the third or fourth goal from them we had a very small reaction and scored a very good goal with Jermain - it was an incredible finish.

"The penalty was the end of the game, but okay, Manchester United are a great team.

"We must learn; we have to realise that if you play against Manchester United you can't switch off for a second, and if you do they will kill you.

"But even against second division sides you can't switch off because it can cost you a goal."

Paolo says the possibility of him moving to Old Trafford earlier in the season did not cross his mind before the game - and he did not see Alex Ferguson after it.

"I didn't meet him; I spoke with my manager who was sad," says Paolo.

"Everybody asked me before the game 'do you want to show something to them?' but I don't have to show anything to them.

"I have played for 15 years at the top level with Juventus, Milan, Lazio, and Naples - so this was simply another game in my good career."