Tony On Joe Transfer

Tony Gale says that Joe Cole can leave West Ham with his head held high - but insists the club had to sell him now rather than let his contract run out next summer.

"Most of the supporters will be gutted about the news that Joe has gone - but if he was to go we had to get good money for him," he explains.

"To get £6.6m is not a bad deal in the end. Despite the club wanting to re-sign him in the last 18 months or so, he didn't want to - so there was no option otherwise it would have been the Sol Campbell scenario.

"If his contract was up, and he wasn't going to sign a new one in the summer, we weren't going to get much money for him at all.

"I don't think anyone is blaming him because he is going into Champions' League football with Chelsea and now West Ham are in the first division."

Tony says that Joe, who leaves as the reigning Hammer of the Year, really put in effort in the last campaign, particularly after being named captain.

"He is not one of the players you could label as having showed a lack of effort last season. I thought his performances, particularly in the second half of the season, were very good for West Ham, and he wasn't one of those players that you could say was not putting it all in."

Tony admits that bringing in players to compensate for his artistry going across London - and indeed that of the departed Paolo Di Canio - will not be easy.

"It is difficult to replace players like that but it would have been impossible to keep Paolo on those wages in the first division.

"Joe has gone, and it leaves us with Jermain and David Connolly up front, a couple of good strikers to get the goals but obviously you have to create those chances for the goals.

"So we are looking at the wide positions and hopefully Matthew Etherington will get off to a good start.

"On the right I don't know who is going to play on Saturday, maybe Don or Youssef Sofiane. We are looking for the wide positions to create our chances - and it is up to the strikers to take them.

"Rob Lee has got bundles of experience and Michael Carrick can be an influence when he is fit.

"It is not the easiest of starts but even with the players that have been sold we are still the favourites if you look at the betting.

"If the attitude is correct I maintain that we have a great chance of winning the championship."