Paolo: One Of My Worst

Paolo Di Canio admits that his performance against Ipswich - watched by four year old daughter Lulu for the first time - was "one of the worst" of his time at Upton Park.

Not that that bothered the youngster, who was able to cheer dad's all important second half goal which restored the lead for the Hammers on Saturday.

"I made about 10 or 15 mistakes like an average player so I wasn't happy, and even after the goal I still wasn't because it didn't cancel my performance, which was pretty poor," says Paolo.

"I am not a player that thinks he can make 15 very silly mistakes like passing the ball forward 40 yards where there are no team mates - it is one of the worst games in my career at West Ham but fortunately we scored and I can cancel this performance.

"I enjoyed the victory rather than the goal because it was very important to take three points, and we did that even if we didn't perform fantastically.

"The game was strange; in the first 25 minutes we made a lot of mistakes, and it was the first hot day so it was difficult.

"But at the end we still scored three goals - and we took three points, we created a lot of chances, and we are happy.

"Now if we can improve and play like a few weeks ago when we played fantastically at home, things can be good.

"I don't remember how I scored, just that the keeper saved my first shot and I extended my foot to put the ball in the corner when it rebounded.

"The last 15 minutes were difficult and we spent a lot of energy, but Jermain came on, scored, and gave us security for the victory."

Paolo singles out Steve Lomas for particular praise and explains:

"I want to mention one player that I think gave us inspiration and I have to thank him because he has been out of the squad for a long time, and today he not only scored but inspired all the other players with his passion and character.

"He leads fantastically from the middle of the field and gives the players the strength to react and I am very happy for him; he is a natural leader and we have missed him a lot.

"He was a long time out and he has been very unlucky in the last few months but now I think everyone has to give credit to him.

"He came back after a big injury for a few games then he had another injury; he didn't give up, and that confirms that he is a strong man and a strong player."

Paolo followed Steve's shirt ripping goal celebration of a fortnight previous when he threw it into the air, and it looked for all the world to those in the Dr. Martens stand that his top had ended up in the Chicken Run.

"For a moment I thought the shirt had disappeared and I was scared but then I saw Sebastien with it over his shoulder and I relaxed a bit - maybe I would have had to play without a shirt and the armband on my arm; it was an explosion of my emotion after playing so poorly technically.

"Now we have a chance to finish in another position; the top eight, to see if we have a chance in Europe - it is in our hands.

"It will be very tough against Fulham on Monday but now we are involved in a comfortable position, and we have to try to change our direction in our away games, especially as it is a London derby and they beat us at Upton Park earlier in the season.

"So it is a good challenge, and if we have a good result against them, we have Charlton at home on Saturday, and we will see.

"But every time we speak we lose!"

Paolo also rounds on the critics who have given Joe Cole such a hard time this week, and says:

"It is not only in England, but Italy and Spain the sports writers exaggerate too much; sometimes they bring him up to the moon and then they put him down, and it is what I said about Jermain Defoe.

"People have to be careful because they have a big influence on young players.

"Joe did fantastic the other night; it is true he lost the ball for the national team but you have to remember they didn't score an easy goal in the box, but Montella scored an incredible goal from 35 yards.

"But before that he created a goal when he won the ball twice against Nesta and another Italian defender to give a chance for England to score.

"You can create something, you can make mistakes but he was very unlucky; yes, people think why he hasn't scored a few goals but he missed games at the start of the season but he has kept his form up and done his job for us, creating chances.

"People criticise him but I don't, and I think he has improved a lot - sports writers criticise him too much.

"They built him up when I myself thought it was the moment, to help him, to say he has a lot to learn. "It is about balance, and people said I was wrong, mad, to say what I did, but he is an important player for us."

Now, looking to the Fulham game, Paolo says:

"If we lose on Monday we will still have to think about one or two points to save the season mathematically; if we draw, we will still be there and we will have to see what happens in the other games, and if we win we will be in a position where we can finish top seven, because even if the other teams win, we would be on 43 points with others on 44.

"We are just one or two points from seventh place so if we win we will at least keep the same distance and if the others don't win we will get up there.

"Then we have Sunderland, Charlton, and Bolton at home - and we will see what happens."