Tony's Preview

Tony Gale is backing the players to bounce back against Sunderland and quotes an old maxim of Billy Bonds as worth remembering in the current situation.

"We almost had the points in the bag at West Brom with wing backs; it nearly worked in what was always going to be a hard game and it wasn't a bad result," he says.

"In hindsight, which it is always good to have a degree in, with the wingbacks against Stoke it was really a case of not going anywhere with it with full backs in wing backs' positions - and Alan realised that by changing it in 25 minutes.

"We haven't lost many under Alan but against Stoke was hard to take the positives out of it; it was one of the poorest performances from West Ham I have seen.

"It was one of those nights and it looked like being so from the start - there is very little as a manager you can do to affect that.

"If it doen't improve you are powerless on the touchline and I am sure there were some words said but it never really looked like picking up - it was infuriating.

"I am hoping that a bigger game will bring a totally different atmosphere and maybe the players will respond to that; I just think it is a frame of mind sometimes.

"They are playing for the best club in the first division, there is no doubt about that; the support says so, the ground says so, everything about the club says so, but at the moment the boys get in that frame of mind where they think they are a little bit too good for the division - and they have got to get in the frame of mind to do the business and kill teams off, and if they want to cruise after that, fine.

"I am disappointed because I feel they are the best squad of players in the first division and they let themselves down on Tuesday - as they will know.

"We have all been there, don't worry about that, and you know when you are going off the pitch; sometimes you can get away with two or three having a poor game but apart from David James I couldn't say there was anyone who didn't make mistakes.

"They didn't play positively, early enough, and not getting the ball into the feet of the midfielders and strikers. "If you are not creating, as my old boss Billy Bonds used to say, 'if you are not doing it with the ball do it without the ball, get your shorts dirty and get the tackles in which we didn't really do.

"You can't lay all the blame at Alan and the staff; the boys have to take the responsibility and blame for it so they have to pick it up and try and put it out of their minds because if we start slowly it will give people ammunition to the people who are negative about the team.

"I sense that people are waiting to get on Alan's side - and the team's - but waiting for something to spark it off and let's hope that happens on Saturday.

"If we play like we did on Tuesday we will get beat, no question, but I don't see us repeating that performance and I just hope that was a one-off.

"I haven't seen anything like it but I think it was a one-off and I fancy us to bounce back.""

As for the fact of Jermain being the subject of a misconstrued comment by the chairman, Terence Brown, at the AGM, Tony says it is a storm in a teacup.

"Quotes get blown out of all proportion; you could listen to this interview and say I am slagging off the team but I am not," he smiles.

"Alan understands the reasons, I am sure, and so do the players, and when the chairman gets up and has to answer to however many people there were there he is going to say something that someone is going to jump on.

"I am sure he didn't mean it as it came out; I think everyone realises that when Jermain put out the transfer request he was mixed up at the time and he didn't quite know how to respond to West Ham going down and thought he had missed the boat.

"I was one of the ones, there were hundreds of ex-players and people all over the country saying 'what a wrong move' and how badly advised he was.

"But fortunately he has turned it round and the supporters got back on his side so I think Terry was right in what he was saying about that particular time - but unfortunately it came out wrongly and people will jump on anything at the moment.

"I am sure he wants to play in the Premiership but who doesn't? We have players like him of undoubted class in the side but you have to do the business for your club.

"People watch you all the time and if bids are made in the transfer window then Alan will have to sit down and discuss if it is best for the club.

"That is Alan's decision and I am sure they won't force that decision on him."