Jimmy's Mixed Feelings

Jimmy Bullard says the promotion race is wide open - and, even though he is a committed West Ham fan, he can't guarantee the Hammers will make it automatically...

Jimmy played for Wigan against West Ham at the weekend but of course started his professional career at Upton Park following a move from Gravesend and Northfleet for £30,000.

His nan lives in a flat that overlooks the ground and he used to live there as well, while a huge contingent of his family were there to watch him at the weekend.

The 25 year old arrived at the same time as Paolo Di Canio Marc Vivien Foe and but he never made an appearance for the first team - though he did get on the subs' bench for games against Liverpool at Anfield in February 1999, a 2-2 draw, and two months later a 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

He moved to Peterborough on a free transfer at the end of the 2000/01 season before arriving at Wigan in January for £275,000 - and is now attracting the interest of a number of Premier League clubs.

"I am enjoying my football at the moment and it is going well," he says.

"I didn't really get a chance at West Ham but that is football; you just do what you can and kick on.

"Harry Redknapp signed me and showed me the way when I started my career, with the likes of Paolo Di Canio and Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Rio.

"I learned from all those players, worked hard, and have grown in confidence since I left with first team football helping me.

"I have gone on higher and higher since I left West Ham and hopefully I can go higher still.

"I am a West Ham boy so it would be good to come back one day and as soon the fixtures were announced I was looking forward to Saturday."

Looking back at the 4-0 defeat, he adds:

"West Ham were outstanding but I felt a bit gutted after the game; they started brightly as we knew they would and I don't know what happened, really.

"After we got the first man sent off it just bypassed us then they got the third goal and they closed the door - but I felt a bit hard done by with a few challenges."

Despite one or two murmurings from fans who felt West Ham should be scoring a hatful against nine men, Jimmy says:

"It was disappointing to lose 4-0 but I don't think West Ham had any problems in the second half, they were just passing the ball about as they do."

Perhaps one day Jimmy will make a manager; he is certainly the model of propriety when 'discussing' the two sendings off Wigan suffered.

"I didn't really see a lot of the two red cards so I can't really comment," he says.

He may want West Ham to go up - with Wigan, of course - but does he think they will?

"I don't know; it is so tight up there I don't think anyone can call it.

"There are some strong teams up there - any of the top 12 could do it."

Wigan and West Ham had met only once before Saturday when the two sides were drawn together in the third round of the FA Cup in 1984 at Upton Park - a game in which Alan Devonshire was badly injured following a tackle by Graham Barrow after which, many argue, he was never able to fully recover from.

One assumes, though, that Jimmy will have recovered from the 4-0 defeat by the next time the two teams meet - on the last day of the season!