A Point Proven?

Glenn Roeder says that the win at the Hawthorns on Sunday proves that a recent story about there being problems with team spirit are totally misguided.

The spotlight fell on West Ham courtesy of an - as yet unnamed - character who appears to think that the players have chips every day for lunch, and an article which wrongly said as much.

But Glenn insists: "There was lots and lots of passion, lots of determination and desire - and a lot of fighting spirit on Sunday.

"That makes a complete mockery of the accusations last week about the players not being up for the fight, or not being prepared to give their all, and 'rucks' like that which stem from one very poorly put together article in one of the tabloids.

"But we have learnt to live with that, we have learnt to accept it, and expect that from the tabloids because of the position we are in.

"But it was excellent to see that the team spirit was there, and the accusations that were thrown at the lads were miles off target."

Even in a section of the London press, however, in the aftermath of the win, there was a focus on the 'spat' between Tomas Repka and David James following a disallowed goal, which Glenn dismisses thus: "With David and Tomas, I would rather see a reaction like that because they were both showing how much they care.

"Obviously I don't want that happening every week, and hopefully we won't need to see that to prove how much we want to get the points to see us to safety - but it gave an indication of how much it means to these players."

David has already said here that five minutes later he had cleared it up with Tomas, a comment that has gone unnoticed given, perhaps, that it shows the unity in the squad rather than any negativity which is keen to be portrayed in certain circles.

Talking of which, Glenn says he had no qualms about the substitutions he made and when he made them, adding that he is pleased to have options these days - something denied to him for most of the season.

"I have to say that that is the importance of having strength in depth," he comments.

With Paolo Di Canio involved in the build-up to Trevor Sinclair's first goal, his replacement Jermain Defoe did the same in the second half after coming on for him.

Paolo, incidentally, who missed a warm down at Chadwell Heath due to a virus on Monday, did train on Tuesday - as did Joe Cole - when the other players had a day off.

"Jermain came on and was full of energy, always chasing balls that were, at times, lost causes," says Glenn.

"I was a little bit disappointed that he was offside a few more times than I thought he should have been, and he has got to be a bit more careful with his runs in behind, but Jermain was a bundle of energy, always looking to sniff out a chance.

"He was influential in the winning goal because it was a terrific knock back into Les' path and I was pleased for Jermain there.

"Then Hutch came on for Les, who gave his all. Les hasn't played a lot of football recently so full credit to him to play in that sort of high tempo game for 80 minutes - it shows how he has looked after himself over the years.

"I just felt with 10 minutes or so to go it was a good opportunity to get Hutch on the field and he was very clever the way he won us some free kicks, got his head on things, and used all his experience."

Don, incidentally, came through a Scotland 'Future' team fixture having played 90 minutes against Turkey, while team mate David Noble made his Scotland debut having switched allegiances from England.

Across the water as it were, Irish international Gary Breen - who played against Don recently - came on late in the game to bolster the defence, and Glenn says that that substitution too paid off.

"Gary Breen came on when we were under severe pressure for nearly 10 minutes and got his head to five or six very important crosses that could have made the difference," he says.

"Had we not had him in those areas at that particular time, who knows, West Brom might have nicked an equaliser in the manner they did against Bolton, when they didn't defend a ball into the box in injury time.

"But when Gary brought the extra height to the defence that worked well - so I have to say I was delighted with the three substitutions."

As for the notion of West Ham riding their luck, in terms of the two disallowed goals, Glenn says: "They were accurate calls by the linesman and that is what you expect. The officials are at the top of their own profession, rated the best available in their chosen careers, and you have to expect them to make the right calls.

"But I would be the first to admit that it is a very difficult job, but the very fact that they are working at this level means that you expect them to make the correct calls - and thankfully on Sunday they made all the right decisions."

And so the gap is closed to three points on Bolton, though in effect a four point differential needs to be attained given the Trotters' far superior goal difference.

"We will always keep one eye on what the others are doing but we have to keep both eyes on the ball as to what we are doing," says Glenn.

But are Birmingham City still in trouble?

"I wouldn't like to comment on other teams," he says, "but the main thing is on Saturday that we carry on with another winning performance which is our goal.

"I am sure it will be an entirely different football game against Tottenham.

"I went to White Hart Lane on Monday and saw them play a very entertaining game with Fulham.

"It is a huge game for us and there is always extra spice for our supporters entertaining Spurs at Upton Park, so I expect our supporters will create that electric atmosphere at 3 o'clock.

"There are no injuries and I am not expecting any problems for Saturday, so we are looking forward to the next vital game."

With the return of Joe Cole from suspension there is a nice selection dilemma for Glenn.

Joe made the effort to drive to Birmingham for the West Brom win, and Glenn reveals: "Joe said to me 'boss, I have got my tickets' and I said 'make sure you come in the dressing room before the game', which he did do.

"He was in with the players before the match talking to them - and the players appreciated that.

"And Joe was one of the first into the dressing room after the game as well to congratulate the lads.

"Now he is free from suspension we are pleased, and Joe epitomised the spirit amongst the players."

Looking at the weekend win overall, Glenn adds: "I thought we fully deserved to be in front before the break; we had two glorious chances to score before Trevor did on the stroke of half time.

"Lee Bowyer was very disappointed that his shot that was goalbound took a deflection wide of the post while Trevor was equally disappointed that his shot hit the ground and then the crossbar, and funnily enough Les was very upset that he didn't score at the back post.

"So it was three very good opportunities and Trevor took probably the most difficult one from an acute angle, so there is four good opportunities in the first half of which we took one.

"They had a 'goal' struck off where Udeze was offside so the linesman got that right.

"The good fortune came when the first chance fell to them with a good delivery into the box, a good header by Moore, and when it came off the upright it was a fantastic bit of follow-up defending by young Glen Johnson.

"He is so inexperienced but he was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball down the field, which was good defending, though it was lucky that it came off the post.

"The first half out of the two halves was the one where I would say the football was played - when the ball spent a lot more time on the ground and both teas were trying to make passes.

"But the second half very quickly became one where it takes two to want to get the ball down and play.

"I fully understand West Brom deciding to knock the ball into our box at every opportunity whether it be one or two touch; they did it very well and it is very hard to play against.

"I remember Wimbledon at their very best, a long time ago now when I was still playing, and that route one football knocking it into the box with every opportunity putting plenty of air into the ball is so hard to face.

"You have to stand up and be counted, which we did, you have to win a lot of second balls which we did, and when we got breached the goalkeeper had an excellent game.

"The only thing from our point of view that I would have liked us to have been better at was to have counter-attacked with more quality and kept the ball ourselves for longer periods with the good passing that we are capable of doing well enough or often enough.

"But the one time we did, we got the winning goal, via an excellent cross from Lee Bowyer. Jermain did ever so well to knock the ball back into Les Ferdinand's path to put onto the crossbar - and there was Trevor Sinclair to make the chance look easy when it wasn't.

"He had to generate a lot of power in his neck there to get the ball through into the goal because there were people on the line.

"As I said on the day, it was a massive three points and as the away team I don't think anyone could deny us it.

"Admittedly David James made more saves than I would have liked him to but we all know he is capable of playing like that and if he has to again in the next 10 games I expect him to do the same."

Even when the chips are down...