Trevor's New Year Wish

Trevor Brooking is hoping West Ham's fortunes change in 2004 after what he admits has been an extremely difficult year for the club.

"It has been a traumatic year, one that nobody would have wanted to happen, and you have got to try now and move on and get positive," he says.

"I still think the side is capable of certainly at the very least the playoffs, but more so one of those top two places.

"It is a league where I don't think anyone is strong enough at present to kick on and get away from the rest and realistically there are 10 or 12 sides that can think to themselves 'we can get up this year'.

"We are one of them and we have got to be one of those that are really pushing to put pressure on the likes of Norwich, Sheffield United, West Brom and Ipswich that will probably be the main competition for those two top places."

Trevor hopes that the side can start reducing the gulf to the top of the tree and he adds:

"It is frustrating to have seen the gap creep into the double figures but you only have to look at what happened in the second half of last season when Ipswich were down the bottom and then shot forward to seventh, just missing out on the playoffs.

"Forest played us in the cup and as they were telling me the other day they were 16th when they unluckily lost to us but the manner of the performance kick started their season and they got into the playoffs after a fantastic run.

"So there is no question that there are four or five clubs below us and us who are capable of getting into those top two places.

"The only reason for that is of course there is no one quite good enough to have got away from the pack - so I don't think you can say anyone is a definite for the top two.

"Certainly in January we have two tough, big games in Sheffield United away and Preston at home because they are two sides around West Ham.

"It is, with the cup, a quietish month in the league where you haven't got time to recover if you have an indifferent result - so they are significant matches."