Tony Backs Il Maestro

Tony Gale welcomes back Paolo Di Canio - and says the game against Chelsea will not be for the faint-hearted.

"I think there will be nerves on both sides for differing reasons; Chelsea, for them, if they don't qualify for the Champions' League, it will cost £15m and they won't be able to hold on to certain players, while the cost could be even more so for West Ham trying to steer clear of relegation, but I don't want to think about that - we need the three points," he says, previewing the game.

"Chelsea can only play one way and that is what will make it an interesting game; they will go for all-out attack as we will to them and I don't think it is going to be a 0-0.

"As the goals go in the bottle will go so it will be tense; Desailly will fill in for John Terry who for me is the mainstay of their defence, and I think that is a big miss for them - but they will be coming at us with some good wide players.

"We have a few missing, Ian Pearce definitely, but it wouldn't surprise me if all the boys are fit because with the slightest doubt you just get on with it with two games to go - and there are enough attacking options to get at Chelsea, with Paolo hopefully being on the bench.

"Paolo was the star of the game at Stamford Bridge; the showman, the artist, and undoubted talent that he is will want to go out with a bang at Upton Park having a big influence on the game.

"We were the club that took him on, after all, when no one else wanted him, so he has done as well for us as we have for him; I think he has to remember that and the fans would love to give him an ovation.

"At times like this you have to get on with it and we all know that a moment of sheer brilliance from Paolo could change everything.

"If it meant us staying in the Premiership they would let mum play up front, I am sure!

"I like the feelgood factor around the club at the moment; Trevor taking over has given everyone a lift and he is in in the top two or three players in the history of the club.

"Everyone is as one at the moment and I just plead with the fans to really make it hard for Chelsea and let everyone know how much we want to stay up."

Tony will be at a West Ham tribute dinner being held at the end of the season where Sir Geoff Hurst, MBE will be the guest of honour and main speaker.

The 1966 World Cup hero will be joined by a host of other Hammers heroes, both past and present, and you can join them on what promises to be a marvellous night.

The date is Thursday, 22nd May, at the London Marriott Hotel, 10 Grosvenor Square, London W.1. at 6.30pm for 7.15pm. Tickets are £875 plus VAT for a table of 10 guests, including a four course meal and wine, while individual seats are £95 plus VAT each.

For further information please contact Les Gold or Dennis Webster on 020 8888 5287.

The guests will include Tony Cottee, Tony Gale, Alvin Martin, Frank McAvennie, Steve Potts, Ray Stewart, Geoff Pike, Alan Devonshire, John Bond, Noel Cantwell...and more.