Joe's Unhappy Birthday?

'It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to' goes the famous song - and while most people about to turn 21 might be eagerly anticipating a good night out, Joe Cole could be forgiven for spending the evening singing the blues.

As it is, Joe will spend his 21st birthday on Friday concentrating solely on preparing to take on Leeds this weekend - and playing his part in trying to get West Ham their first win of the season at Upton Park.

For all the plaudits Joe has received in his short career, he has never let the praise go to his head - and, after another night of knockout misery, he is prepared to take as much, if not more than, his share of responsibility.

"I feel it was a terrible performance from me and that was probably the worst I have played all season," he says candidly.

"But the team weren't very good either - and it was hard."

But he is magnanimous in his praise for Oldham, whose boss Iain Dowie, says of him:

"I thought Joe Cole was terrific - a talent and a half - and to nullify players of that quality is a fantastic achievement for my team."

"Cole's bravery was outstanding, he never not wanted the ball - and if that could be mirrored throughout the team they could do well."

Joe says, however:

"I was poor this evening; I am happy with myself when I play well and when I don't I am my biggest critic.

"When anybody tells me I don't play well I don't bother because the only person I listen to is myself.

"I wasn't very good tonight, but that happens sometimes, and it is a case of putting it right.

"Nobody hurts more than me; I am really hurting after that - it is embarrassing."

Joe adds:

"But full credit to Oldham, though, they came out, battled, and got the result that they deserved in the end."

Joe is determined to play his part in getting the Hammers a win against Leeds - who lost to Sheffield United midweek - on Sunday and he says:

"We have just got to grind out a few results now."

He stresses that the home success of the last campaign must be forgotten and adds:

"We are living on last season, I think, at home; teams are coming here, looking to shut up shop, and we have got to really dig in now."

If that first home victory of the season is achieved, it might be that the staple football stadium song 'Celebration' - written before he was born - is played over the speakers on Sunday!

Whether he would sing along remains to be seen, though one might hope that part time crooner Terry Venables, Leeds' current boss, leaves east London speechless.

But Iain Dowie certainly had plenty to say before being whisked away from seeing old friends at Upton Park in order to leave on time for the police esort home.

Iain, who started 83 matches for West Ham in two spells with the club between 1991 and 1998, knows all about West Ham's abysmal record against lower league teams.

His headed own goal in a 2-1 fourth round replay defeat in the League Cup away to Stockport County in 1996 is, of course, part of West Ham folklore.

And he says:

"I've always been a West Ham fan, I supported them as a boy and I wish them well.

"Glenn is an honest individual who will work as hard as he can - and I have a lot of sympathy for him.

"All I can say is he should keep doing what he believes in, and if he's going to make mistakes they should be his own; he is a strong character and I believe he will get through this.

"Of course he needs a result and it wouldn't surprise me if West Ham beat Leeds on Sunday - I'll be watching on TV and keeping my fingers crossed."

"But for us, it is a terrific result; when you come back here and see what the place has become and how it has developed it is fantastic for us to win.

"We worked hard this week on how to be difficult to beat and how to break on them.

"Before the game, I thought if we could get a draw it would be a fantastic result and I can't believe this result with the quality of players they have got here."