Phil: Home's A Groan

Former Hammers hero Phil Parkes says the players are more likely to be relishing this weekend's away trip than if they were playing Liverpool at home!

Phil, who still watches West Ham regularly, admits that the tension at Upton Park is palpable right now and says:

"This was one place which was like a fortress here and it has suddenly become a place where they don't want to play.

"That happens - people get very nervous and the crowd get on to them and they are probably looking forward to play away more than at home.

"My daughter is in Australia at the moment and I keep getting emails saying 'what is going on - what went wrong?'

"My kids are big Hammers fans but she is probably worse than my son.

"It is pretty hard to take in at the moment - they had the terrible start against Newcastle but then the encouraging home game against Arsenal when they should have won - pop the penalty in and it would have happened.

"Then there were great expectations of giving Charlton a thumping, but it appeared that the team only thought they had to turn up to win the game.

"They gave away two dreadful goals, Charlton shut up shop and that was it - they got booed off.

"It has gradually got worse since then, even though the great win over Chelsea made us think we had turned the corner - but it was back for the Birmingham game and the same thing."

With the quality in the squad, Phil agrees that relegation should not even be an issue, but he knows only too well of the perils and adds:

"Every team says that; Leicester weren't a bad side, too good to go down, but it doesn't work like that - you have to earn the right to stay up there.

"Had they lost to Chelsea Fulham and Sunderland it would be dire straits now - and if we had won all three of the last games people would have been wondering what all the fuss was about.

"But all of a sudden people talk about all sorts of things.

"I spoke to Paul Goddard two nights ago about the situation and he said he thinks they are a stronger squad than last season - he just can't understand why it has gone wrong.

"Obviously silly goals have been given away but he can't understand why they are in the position they are.

"It is difficult - how do you get out of it when you have got a better squad than last season and you are in a far worse position?

"But I am still hopeful they can do it - they have got a good enough side and there are far worse teams in the Premiership.

"But the old saying about 'too good to go down' - let's hope come May it is true."

* Phil, like all the other players from the squad of '86, has signed a numbered print depicting their achievements in finishing third that year.

If you are interested in a print, call 0870 174 1986 for further details.