Joe: It Was Sheer Grit

Joe Cole's verdict on the Everton game is that it was sheer determination and organisation that won Hammers a point - rather than the now famous 'huddle'.

Of that pre-match gathering on the centre of the field, extended at Goodison Park to one before the restart as well, Joe says: "That is just a small thing, but everyone is having a good shape which we have not really had all season - and that is very important.

"It does help, but, like I say, the lads have been right together and we are in this to the end. It is going to be hard but we are working hard.

"It was something I asked the lads to do as captain, it's good that the fans see it and realise it's us playing for them.

"The attitude has been great lately, but we have to continue this little run on Saturday."

Joe admits that, as a spectacle, the game was lacking - but makes no apologies for that.

"It was a good point against a side doing well so it was pleasing. I think it was a good performance without being pretty, really.

"We worked hard and I think we got what we deserved in the end.

"We are working very much as a team now and there was great defending from the lads at the back, the ones in the front, and the boys in the middle as well.

"In the past we have let our defence down, we have left them exposed and that has not been fair on them because they have been left with a difficult job to do.

"But since the West Brom game when we had to battle for our lives, and the whole team worked together to give everything, I think you could say we realised what had to be done.

"So we have defended from the front, been much stronger - and given our defence far more protection.

"I think the defence have had some unfair criticism this season, and have taken the stick for the rest of us when they have been stranded."

One of those defenders is, of course, Tomas Repka, and even after such a battling performance on Saturday one newspaper still had to put in a snide remark about him.

But Joe insists: "He is showing now what a good player he is and that the stick was unfair. Don't forget, he's an experienced international.

"But the main thing is that we are playing as a team, the likes of Steve Lomas and Michael Carrick, as well as the two front players, are working hard all over to stop people getting at our defence, and I am buzzing, enjoying the battling in midfield."

Joe has unfairly been accused by some observers as 'showboating' sometimes, but he feels that extolling the virtues of the team ethic, and getting the challenges in himself, is what he is about.

"People seem to be surprised that I can do that, but I feel I have always been able to do the scrapping, even if it is something I am not recognised for always with some saying I can't do it - though I've always felt it was part of my game.

"And we had to be dogged against Everton. It wasn't pretty but I know we can do it - and if we survive it will be through the team doing it, not individuals.

"But we know Sunderland will be a different game and we will be able to pass the ball more. Any Premier League game is difficult so we will be ready for them when they come down."