Joe Optimistic

Joe Cole insists he retains his optimism ahead of Sunday's final game of the season at Birmingham City.

Joe, who was presented with the Hammer of the year award for the season ahead of helping West Ham to complete the double over Chelsea on Saturday, says:

"I am very proud, obviously, and it is nice to be recognised, but the most important thing was to have won - and to win this weekend.

"We have got to keep our feet on the ground; it was a great performance on Saturday but the job isn't done and we have to crack on and keep our feet on the ground."

Of Paolo scoring the winner - his 50th goal for the club, he adds:

"It is a team thing, but he has got the script written and the lads don't care who scores the goal.

"Paolo is great and we are very happy; he is just a fantastic player to have in your team, and to be able to come off the bench the way he did makes us very happy."

Paolo picked up a fair few column inches before the Chelsea game, but Joe says:

"I don't really read things; when we play football that is the main thing and it is the only thing I will ever take into account of any player.

"He did the job, put the ball into the back of the net, and it is great."

Wise words with Joe judging his team mates on pure performance, he may be interested to know that Paolo is technically the best finisher in the Premiership, having scored 32% of his chances this season.

Those eight goals put him ahead of Robert Pires, with 11 goals and a 29.7% strike rate, and Solano, with seven goals representing 28.0%.

Even Ruud van Nistelrooy, albeit with 24 goals, has a strike rate of 'only' 25.5%.

In fact, in this campaign, Paolo has taken his chances with even more clinical finishing than in any other at Upton Park and, despite missing most of the season, he is just one goal short of his haul in each of the previous two seasons.

In the 2002-03 season, eight goals represented a 32% strike rate, in 1999-00 16 goals was 25%, in the previous season, 1998-99, four goals was 21%, in 2000-01 nine goals was 18%, and in 2001-02 nine was 16%.

This term, his goals have come every 170 minutes on the pitch on average, and only in 1999-2000 has he scored more frequently - every 164 minutes.

He has a high ratio of shots on target, having achieved a 71% rate that season, while in 2002-03 it is 64%.

For 2001-02, the figures read a goal on average every 251 minutes and 60% of shots on target, for 1998-99 it is 272 [ 53%], and for 2000-01 it is 309 minutes [37%].

For most of those games, it has been a case of playing in a wing back system or 4-4-2, and very rarely the 4-3-3 system employed on Saturday as the Hammers chased the win.

Joe admits 4-4-3 can make things tough in midfield, but adds:

"At lot of the time we were doing doggies but that is what I have been doing a lot, and getting tackles in, so I am used to that now.

"I don't mind and I will play in goal if it means West Ham staying up."

And his assessment of the final frontier when West Ham have to do better than Bolton?

"We can do it; it is another job, another hard task, and we have to crack on," he says.

"Am I still optimistic? Of course."

There are no major injury scares ahead of the weekend; 'Sir' Les Ferdinand has missed a couple of days' training after his customary battering but will return later in the week.