Glenn: Confidence Is Key

Glenn Roeder says that rebuilding the confidence of some of the players is a priority - and he hopes that the players that have joined the club last month, and those that have returned from injury, have brought a freshness to the team that will be of benefit in the last dozen games.

West Ham won 22 points from the final 12 games of last season and, if you look at the starting line ups in that sequence, only Vladimir Labant, with six starts in that time, is not at the club this time around.

Add to that the fact that Don Hutchison only played in the first of those dozen, when he got injured against Middlesbrough, and that Rufus Brevett, Les Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, Gary Breen, and Eduoard Cisse have joined and been involved in the first team, while Glen Johnson has recently emerged as a contender, and the signs look optimistic.

That said, Glenn knows the confidence has been knocked this campaign, and he says:

"It is a case of rebuilding the confidence of some of those players; it is so easy to be critical and destructive and to knock things down - it is much more difficult to be constructive and build.

"Any fool can be given a bulldozer and knock a house down, but it takes a clever person to build a house from scratch."

It is, of course, Catch-22: poor results affect confidence which leads to more poor results, and Glenn acknowledges this.

"You have to break the cycle and that is done on the training ground with even harder work and even more tempo in the training," he says.

"The sessions don't have to be any longer, but the actual quality, in terms of energy put in, has to be at match tempo; then the confidence will come back and we have to take that into the matches and not hope, but know you are going to get a performance.

"Players do not become poor overnight and the form that some of them have shown at times this year shows they are still the same player underneath and when we can get their confidence back - and we have to get that confidence back as soon as we can, and have been working hard on getting that this week - things will change.

"Probably the ones who have lost a bit of belief are the ones who have been playing all season and the ones who are fresher have more a bit more confidence.

"You can look at Glen Johnson who did very well against a good Liverpool team, and we need Glen to continue like that for the rest of the season and build on that.

"He needs to build on his games, stay focused, and keep his feet on the ground - which I am sure he will do because he is a brilliant lad to work with - and we need to get him through as many of these games as possible.

"I really feel he plays a natural right back's game where he is a defender first and an offensive full back second.

"We must make sure we are much more defensively sound in all aspects of our defending.

"Tomas Repka is back after a break and has had two very decent games - we need him to continue like that for the rest of the season, and the key feature for him in the last two games is that he has not disputed a referee's decision or given away silly free kicks that have cost us - and I will keep reminding him of those two aspects of his game.

"He is not allowed to talk to referees because he loses his concentration.

"Rufus Brevett has shown us what he is capable of and Fredi Kanoute is now ready to start against Leeds; he played with a lot of energy since coming back, and the players who did better on Sunday have not been in the team all year.

"They played with more confidence and the ones that have been in all year are obviously feeling the pressure and it is my job to lift them and give them the belief again that they are as good players as we know they are, players who have just dipped since and including the Manchester United performance.

"Les has brought to the squad exactly what I wanted him to do, a physical presence and aerial threat.

"We haven't got the best out of Les yet because we haven't got the crosses into the box.

"For so long this season we haven't had an aerial threat so we have got out of the habit of crossing early balls in to attack in the air, but now we have got Les and Fredi we can start putting crosses into the penalty box.

"Paolo is fresh as well after eight or nine weeks out; he is in a determined mood and motivated about our survival - and all the squad need to get themselves up for every game and for the challenge."

Looking back on the win at Blackburn, followed by the defeat at home to Liverpool, Glenn says:

"As far as the last two league games are concerned, the Blackburn game was a huge relief to get the win - it was a very important three points as any of them are from now on, points towards our goal of achieving survival.

"So the Wednesday of last week was terrific and it is fair to say on the back of that, and even allowing for a rejuvenated Liverpool who had come through a difficult period - and you have to say it is a team still hoping for a Champions' League spot - I just felt in the opening 10 minutes we could have had a better start to the game, especially after the way the game went on Wednesday with a good finish.

"But, by getting off to a slow start on Sunday, which I didn't expect, and conceding two goals so early, it was hugely disappointing - and we all know we have to do better from set plays.

"Suddenly we are in front of our own supporters and we are 2-0 down with our backs to the wall straight away, which obviously gave a Liverpool side full of top drawer players a lot of confidence.

"It was nearly an impossible task with two goals down, we had to chase while they kept the ball, and I just felt that some of the boys really felt the pressure and found it hard to pick themselves up.

"It illustrated what I have been saying, that for some of them their confidence is a little bit low and it needs to be picked up; they are still excellent players that we need to regain their confidence."

As for the weekend, he adds:

"I saw Leeds against Gillingham on Tuesday and they were in control for most of the match - and, although they have lost many top class players, they are still loaded with some fantastic players.

"We know Elland Road is going to be a difficult game and give the players belief again, which some of them have lost.

"You know how it is going to go in those opening 10 minutes and we don't want the sort of start we had against Liverpool.

"We have to get them back to their best which will give us more chance of getting the results we want, but we have got to work harder, we have to press better as a midfield unit, and we have got to squeeze higher from the defence, and we have to get the front two helping out as well.

"If we can get amongst the opposition and really win the ball as early as we can we have enough ability in the front half of the team to make chances and score goals."