Matthew: Why I Signed

Matthew Etherington has come to Upton Park to declare: West Ham are bigger than Tottenham.

That is not the flippant comment of a new arrival trying to ingratiate himself with his new employers' supporters, rather an honest belief and, to some degree, an explanation of why he has dropped a division to come to Upton Park.

Former Gooner Paul Merson described West Ham's relegation as 'a freak' at the weekend and Matthew says: "Going down was a disaster but I believe we can get back in the Premiership at the first attempt.

"West Ham is a bigger club, stature-wise, than Tottenham. Obviously relegation has put us in different divisions but West Ham are massive and everyone knows that - one of the biggest clubs in London.

"I think if you look at the players we have got we are more than good enough to get out of the division.

"It is a squad of Premiership players and with any amount of luck we should do well."

Matthew has his first training session with his new team mates on Tuesday - it would not have happened had the transfer not finally gone through first thing - and he adds: "I am very pleased; it is all sorted now and I am delighted with the move and I am just looking forward to playing."

Was dropping down a division something he had to do a bit of soul-searching about?

"It was, definitely. I probably had a very good chance of starting in the first game at Tottenham this year but I had to look at the bigger picture, really.

"I spoke to the manager and I couldn't really see myself cementing a place down there and that had been the case for the last two years.

"I think I have got a chance of playing first team football on a regular basis at West Ham and that was the lure.

"I am taking a step down in divisions but hopefully we will bounce straight back up; it is one step back to go two steps forward.

"That is the plan, to take a step down for just one season only. Hopefully it will work out - and I can't see any reason why it won't."

He doesn't think he will have a problem settling in to life across London and adds: "It should be okay; I know some of the lads from the under-21s and it shouldn't be a problem.

"I am just looking forward to training today, meeting the lads, and getting on with it.

"I know people like Joe Cole, Steve Bywater, Jermain Defoe, and Michael Carrick who have been with the under-21s and I have played with the under-16s and under-18s for England as well, so it will be a bit easier to settle in and I am looking forward to the first game."

Matthew does hope to complete the set and play for the full England side one day, and he adds: "Left-sided players are in short supply, everyone knows that, but I am hoping that with a regular 20, 30, or 40 games under my belt I will become twice the player - and hopefully that side of things will take off."

He admits he never really felt he was given a fair crack of the whip at White Hart Lane, explaining: "The frustrating thing was that last season I played 12 or so games and then got injured in November until January.

"I was then back to square one. I would start, then I would be left out, and in that situation you can't get your fitness or sharpness back.

"Although there might not be the competition at West Ham I know that if I don't play well I am out of the team - it is down to me, and I am self-motivated."

Naturally, as a Spurs player, he has had to endure the banter of the home fans, and he remembers: "Last season Spurs got beaten by West Ham 2-1 at Upton Park and there was plenty of 'rivalry' from the other side."

Matthew is not a Spurs fan, though, and adds: "I was brought up in Cornwall and I have been at Peterborough since I was 11. Where I came from if anything you supported the team that was winning the league but I didn't support anyone.

"But I am a West Ham supporter now, that is for certain.

"I spoke to Glenn Roeder over the weekend and was very impressed with what he had to say.

"He is a really good coach who I hope can help my game and John Gorman at Spurs speaks very highly of him."

And, for the first match preview of the new season, let Matthew sum it up.

"I was at Bradford on loan and played against Preston. They are a very good home side with some good players."