Nigel: Stay Up And I'm Off!

Nigel Winterburn has called on his colleagues to grab a Premiership lifeline on Sunday - to ensure he leaves Upton Park this summer.

Not that he has a particular desire to leave per se, but he explains:

"It will be a strange ending to my career if I decide to retire; if we stay in the Premiership I will be leaving West Ham as I don't think I will be able to do another season in the Premiership with the pace in the game to standards I set myself."

Nigel, who took a pay cut last summer to stay with the Hammers one more year, is contemplating one more season in the first division as an option, however, and adds:

"It depends on the financial state of football lower down whether any clubs would be willing to offer me a contract, but money is not my driving force.

"I have a passion just to play and if I think I can do a job for somebody in the first division rest assured I wouldn't sign for money, but would fit into the pay scale.

"That is what I have to sit and think about in the summer - it is just whether I can justify dropping down.

Nigel, whose last game was against Liverpool in early February, after which he had a wrist operation, says he has been thinking about Glenn Roeder, as well as the football, since he was taken ill.

"I think when something like this happens, football takes a back seat for a while, and obviously our thoughts have been with Glenn and his family.

"I think Glenn would want us to carry on with the way things are and fully focus on getting these maximum points towards hopefully keeping us in the Premiership.

"He is a very kind person, he is very dedicated to West Ham, and a lot of people don't see the good work that he does at the club.

"In a way I think he has tried to protect the players as much as possible and has taken a lot of stick for the performances.

"But I have said before, and not just because of what happened, it is a role reversal really and it is the players that have let him down rather than him letting anyone else down.

"That is the sad part of it; we haven't performed like we can and that is why we are in the position that we are.

"To a large degree it is the manager that takes the blame - one or two players have had a little bit of stick this season but nothing compared to what Glenn has had to endure throughout the season."

As for Trevor taking over for the last three games of the season, he adds:

"That was the right decision to make when it was obvious Glenn was not going to come back straight away.

"To appoint someone within the club was right and Trevor was the ideal candidate; he spent so long at West Ham and is part of what most people would consider the all-time greatest West Ham team so it has made sense for him to come in.

"It has been down to each individual player to focus on the task in hand and not use the situation as an excuse; I know the players at West Ham and that has not been happening anyway - we are all desperate to get the points to keep us in the Premiership next season.

"They know that the only place to play is in the Premiership, we realise the hard work Glenn has put in this season, and he would want us to go out and win the game which we are fully focused on doing.

"Even without the incident happening there would have been a response because in the last eight or nine games they have shown tremendous character in picking up a lot of points.

"Unfortunately we have left ourselves in a tricky situation but others around us have been winning as well so it has made it even more hard.

"The players are strong characters and proud of being professional footballers and they want to make sure they play in the Premiership next season.

If West Ham had even got a point in the bad-tempered game at Bolton they would be three points ahead of them right now, and in pole position to stay up.

"It was obvious that the Bolton game was going to be what everyone focused on," he says, "and we really needed not to lose that game - to go down 1-0, tempers were bound to get a bit frayed.

"We had to get on with the next game, though, and after losing against Bolton everyone could have felt sorry for themselves against Middlesbrough, and lost to them - which would have been a complete disaster.

"It was a tension-packed game but I would settle for three 1-0 wins to end the season, so they did themselves proud to earn a 1-0 win and that's what they will be looking to do on Sunday.

"Everything is 'do-able' but we know we need to win."

As for managing, and the fact that Premiership players don't have the same financial need to manage as before as they earn so much, he adds:

"When you talk about money that players earn it is the only the very top players that earn fantastic amounts of money.

"There are a lot of ex-players that are managers in the lower leagues now that actually like to be still involved some doing fantastic and fancy their chances at a bigger club.

"It is not even to do with the money, it is desire for the game, and if you are that way inclined whether you are earning £5 a week or £50,000 a week if that is what you want you would go for it - sometimes football is inbred and people love the buzz.

But would he consider being a manager?

"I don't think so; I find it very difficult to watch games especially if it is the team I am associated with and I am not playing.

"I didn't watch the Bolton game and I don't think as a manager or coach I would be able to stand the tension."

Poignantly, he adds:

"It makes you stop and think when see what has happened to managers throughout the years.

"The Premiership is probably the only place to be for a lot of players and clubs so much money winning and stay in the Premiership is everything."

Which brings us back to Glenn, recovering at home where, the morning of the day he was taken ill, a bottle was thrown through the window of his house.

"Since I have been at West Ham in the last three years I have known that there are not many fans more passionate, and we don't even know if it is related to what happened to Glenn but it is wrong; a few people have probably taken it a bit too far and that has to stop."