Much Ado...about Nowt!

David James, Glenn Roeder, and David Connolly all agree that the fuss being made about whether the players did or didn't get changed in the Millmoor dressing rooms has been totally overplayed.

As was made plain to local press men before the game, West Ham's players were partly kitted out ahead of their arrival at the tiny ground, which one local reporter described as not even being third division standard.

But Glenn Roeder, who said before the game that as long as there was grass on the pitch that was all that mattered - and a fine, if four foot sloping, surface it was too - insists the story is something and nothing.

It was wrongly reported 'on the wires' that the players "refused to use the Millmoor changing rooms prior to the game and preferred to return to their hotel and prepare."

Counters Glenn:

"That is absolutely wrong; at every away game our kit man comes first to lay out a certain amount of kit so that when we arrive the players can get changed.

"Because squads and staff are a lot bigger now it made sense to get - only partly - get ready at the hotel before getting fully prepared.

"To suggest we went there, went back, and came back again is ludicrous.

"At every away game our kit man does that; it is not just West Ham, but every club.

"We prepare the equipment that we need and that is it so to make a story out of it is really wrong - we didn't get fully changed at the hotel.

"We have 16, plus the lads not involved, plus the staff, and it made sense - and as far as I am aware there are a lot of teams that do that.

"For a story to be made out of this is unbelievable, the state of our world today that someone can even be bothered to write that.

"It is not the truth to suggest we got fully changed before we went to the ground; it is a lie.

"I know what happened, and I don't think I am known in football for not telling the truth, I am the complete opposite.

"We have gone to Rotherham, they have got a good victory, and well done to Rotherham.

"I am not disrespectful to any human being or football club so how can anything backfire; we have gone there and lost a game 1-0.

"To suggest anything has been underhand is completely wrong, out of the story book."

As for David James, he is equally perplexed about the perceived affrontery to the friendly Yorkshire club.

"I have been playing for 12 years or so and I can't remember that, but it doesn't make a huge difference; the game is 90 minutes long, we do the warmup prior to that, and that is it," he says.

"We have lost 1-0 in a game we shouldn't have lost before we went there, but the performance wasn't good enough - I am not trying to deflect any criticisms from the performance because it wasn't up to standard.

"There is one thing I have learnt in football - you prepare properly, you work at what you are prepared to do and you have got a better chance of winning - it doesn't matter what other people do.

"You can't voice an opinion on something you don't know about, and the dressing room does not facilitate a team getting changed from scratch before a game.

"That is why we did it to some extent in the hotel prior to the game; it is nothing to do with being big time Charlies, it is a case of it being physically not big enough."

The fact is, with the preparatory work the West Ham players do, the cramped facilities - which include one of the old style 'jump in' communal baths which are not allowed to be built any more - would not have allowed the necessary space required for everything that needed to be done prior to going out onto the field.

This did not mean that the players arrived in full regalia, boots in hand, as has been implied.

Russell Holman, of the backroom staff, explains:

"The strappings and massage were done at the hotel, and with the amount of people we have we will have to do it this way at a few grounds."

As for David Connolly - used to the rough and tumble with Wimbledon in the last two seasons - he adds:

"I got changed in the changing rooms and some of the lads did; I have been there before and I know it is small but it doesn't bother me.

"I just feel the staff were being vigilant, extra-professional, wanting everybody to be right to get in and get out.

"It was fine from the staff and the management and no one can say they weren't prepared, we can't say we weren't prepared because we were.

"I think I have been somewhere before when we got changed before we came in; I don't think it is anything out of the ordinary.

"It was just an option that if we wanted to get changed at the hotel it was there - it was just the staff doing their job well."

And so, at last, to the football itself: No one is making excuses for the defeat at Rotherham, and David admits:

"It is hard to find the words for it; it is not the level of performance that the manager, the team, or the fans expect.

"They did what they did very well and we didn't do what we should do very well; we lost it up front quite a bit and didn't make the ball stick.

"We just didn't seem to be at it all over the park, and I don't think I am speaking out of turn there.

"Everybody in their side just seemed to be a little bit sharper than us and it was probably because they were playing West Ham and treating it like a cup final.

"But we should be able to deal with that, and on the day we weren't capable of doing that."

As for the competition up front - and his widely reported comments after the Preston game about not being selected to start, he says:

"There are three of us there and we are all there to be in and amongst it.

"I was disappointed with my performance; it has to better and there are no qualms there.

"I didn't earn the right to stay on and that is fine; the first game was a different set of circumstances, circumstances the manager has told me no longer apply.

"It is up to the players that play to earn the right to stay in there and I have a good working relationship with Neil and the lads.

"I was hoping when he came on we would get something out of the game but unfortunately we didn't and that is disappointing."

As to teams raising their game against West Ham in the first division, he adds:

"It is possibly the case; but we can't be arrogant about it and think we can walk this league because it is not going to happen.

"Teams that come down find it difficult and every game is going to be a tough one when you look at it; Rotherham do what they do very well and have got good players as well.

"And that is Rotherham; there are another 23 teams like them so we will have to raise our game accordingly.

"But the season has just begun and hopefully we can pick things up.

"Bradford is another game and the games come thick and fast; it is good that we have the chance to remedy it."

Adds David:

"We were favourites to go up before we sold our players and now we are one of the favourites but performances like that will not win promotion - guaranteed.

"We have a couple of days to work on it to make sure we don't lose again, and the pressure is on - but that is the way it is."

And Glenn adds:

"They competed better than we did in all areas of the field and that is why they got the goal - I am sure Ronnie Moore will be pleased, and rightly so.

"I thought we did enough in the second half to get a point but it is a fine dividing line and that is football.

"We have spoken a lot about what to expect especially away from home and there are lessons to be learnt.

"Jermain nearly got the team out of jail and he is disappointed not to have scored.

"Bringing players in is even more necessary and we will unearth them sooner rather than later - we need to replace Brevett as soon as possible.

"I am looking for at least another four players."

Regarding the loss of Christian Dailly for the last nine minutes - the fourth official wouldn't allow him back on after a collision with Richie Barker, although club doctor Ges Steinbergs gave him the okay - Glenn says:

"I am not an excuse man, never have been, and the fact is we went down to 10 men with nine minutes to go did not have a bearing on the end result.

"Christian accepts it was purely accidental; I have known Richie Barker for a number of years and he would run through a brick wall for any club he plays for.

"Christian is not in a very nice way with his teeth all over the place but he knows it was a pure accident, part of football."

And, regarding Jermain Defoe - who had a free kick pushed onto the post - he says there is no reason to suggest he is unhappy.

"He hasn't come to see me to say anything different and he is a pleasant, highly intelligent young man as well as a wonderful talent."