Dowie: Hall's The New Rio!

Iain Dowie says that he may have unearthed the next Rio Ferdinand in former West Ham trainee Fitz Hall.

Fitz, who played for Oldham against the Hammers on Wednesday night, left Upton Park as a schoolboy but has picked his career up with the Latics after dropping out of the game for a year and then playing for Barnet and Chesham.

He put in an accomplished performance against his old club and Iain says of him:

"I think he can go and play at the top level; people will laugh at this, but I see a lot of Rio Ferdinand in him - and I am a good friend of Rio's.

"He is probably not quite as good on the ball as Rio but he is probably as quick, and at this stage of his career I think he is an outstanding defender.

"West Ham's loss has been our gain, and he was my signing so I am delighted that the chance I took has been so valuable."

He expects enquiries about the 21 year old when the transfer window opens, and he says:

"I will turn my phone off in January!"

That Iain is a West Ham fanatic is well documented, and he says of Wednesday's victory:

"It is a precarious environment, but, although I am a West Ham fan, managing Oldham is my job of work and I was pleased with the win.

"I thought we showed some good quality passing ability, especially in the first half, and in the second half we showed a lot of steel.

"For our keeper to only have to make one outstanding save, from Jermain Defoe, spoke volumes, but when you play sides of the quality of West Ham it is going to be tough.

"And you are talking about Sinclair, Di Canio, and Kanoute missing, and any team in the world is going to miss that quality.

"Tactically, though, I think we got it right and the greatest complement was that Glenn changed West Ham's shape to match ours, playing three.

"That was, perhaps, a sign that there was a bit of nervousness in the camp."

Iain, whose reward for getting through to the next round of the Worthington Cup is a trip to another of his old clubs, Crystal Palace, fervently hopes that Glenn Roeder can get West Ham winning soon.

"Glenn is a straightforward honest lad and will do all the things that he has been this season, and if he keeps his beliefs that is the main thing.

"Glenn signed a new deal and he has got to be given the opportunity to work it through.

"It is a results-driven business and Glenn knows that he needs a result as soon as he can because without that the pressure builds.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure than West Ham beating Leeds."

Iain knows that the manager takes all the flak - but says that is how it should be.

"When we lost a game and everyone was saying the wheels had come off I said to the lads 'don't worry' and I took the blame, which was quite right.

"What you have to do is deflect the pressure away from the lads and take it all on yourself.

"I am a great believer in sharing the credit and taking the blame as a manager.

"Players will look up to you and respect you for that and if you do that there is every chance that players will look you in the eye and know you will support them whatever the circumstances."