Michael: No Extra Pressure

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Michael Carrick insists there is no extra pressure in playing at home on Sunday - and chasing that first Upton Park win of the season.

The victory at Fulham on Wednesday night means that West Ham have won as many league games away as they did all last season - and have also lost as many home encounters as the entire 2001-02 campaign.

With three away league victories on the spin - and the last time that happened was in the 95/96 season by beating Wimbledon, Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton - Michael could be forgiven for being apprehensive about returning to Upton Park, especially with the memory of getting some stick against West Bromwich Albion still fresh in his mind.

But he is having none of it and stresses: "I wouldn't say there is more pressure at home. Every game is a different game and we will go into it full of confidence after the way we have been playing.

"It doesn't really matter where it is. It is 11 v 11 and that is the way we have got to look at it."

"It is vital to keep it going and we said in the dressing room on Wednesday that we don't want to get carried away with the results.

"It is a massive game again on Sunday and we don't want to let ourselves down. We want to push on up the league and if we start picking up points at home it will be a real help.

"The criticism I got was just one of those things and it hasn't really affected me. Everyone has a little spell, and I wasn't at my best, but I was confident in my own ability and knew if I kept doing what I thought was right, and what I have been doing for the last two years, I would pull through - and thankfully I have.

"I am not doing too bad at the moment but there is still room for improvement and if you ask any player they will say that."

Personal improvement has been mirrored by better results, and Michael adds: "The lads said in the last couple of weeks that the defence has got to be better and Christian has come in and been ever so good - so that is something to build on.

"And with the players we have got up front we are going to create the odd chance and expect to put them away.

"When you have got Trevor and Joe bombing on the wings they have got bags of pace and there are a few goals in Jermain as well."

He has no complaints if results are merely ground out, as they have been in the last two games, and he adds: "In the first half I think we played a lot of good football but the second was about team work and team spirit getting us through. We weren't the prettiest team to watch, but look at the league table and we have got another three points - and that is what it is all about.

"We have had a good week so far but we still have another game and it is going to be the biggest game of the season so far.

"We need to go in there buzzing - and we need three points."

He admits he is looking up the table now, and he adds: "You automatically do that once you have had a couple of good results, especially when it is as tight as it is.

"We have come off the bottom on Saturday and to get another win which people probably didn't expect us to means you start looking ahead and at the top half of the table."

Michael enjoyed playing alongside Eduoard Cisse who replaced the ill Steve Lomas, and he says: "He is a quality player who has been at the top of French football for a long time; he brings a lot of experience to us.

"He did a great job and we looked really solid."

Michael admits that Wednesday did drain him physically and he adds: "I was just right behind him when he took the penalty - but I was too tired to celebrate!"

As for whether Paolo deserves a new contract he says: "Thankfully Paolo produced on the night and if he keeps playing like that and helping us get the wins it will be important but it is up to the club and it is not for me to comment on that."

So, next up it is Everton - and young Wayne Rooney, grabbing the headlines for scoring at 16 last week to help Everton beat Arsenal.

"I have seen his goal which was a good one and to be scoring at 16 - he has got to be some player," says Michael.

"It is nice when you see young lads break through and it wasn't that long ago I was doing just that.

"You know what the young lads go through and it will be interesting to see what he is all about.

"You just have to have self-belief and take advice when it is given to you - if you think it is the right advice. As long as you have got confidence you will be all right.

"It's probably similar to Joe in a way, coming through early, and hopefully he will be good for English football - but not on Sunday!"