Alan: We Have To Battle

Alan Pardew says his players have to learn to cope with the "furore" of first division football.

It is a point, eloquently put, that is based on his own experience of how things go in the latter stages of the campaign.

"The furore of this division caught us out on Saturday," he says, "but we have been in it long enough to know what it is about.

"It is building, and the fight that there is in this division is something we haven't got to grips with - I would have liked to have seen more headers and tackles won on Saturday."

Alan says you have to adjust your style, to a degree, and explains:

"Reading were really up for it - they swarmed all over us and we didn't play percentages; you can't afford to try and pass through teams when there is that sort of hype on the game.

"We have got to learn to play in this division and we didn't do that well at all.

"But it will put us in good stead for the play-offs, though, having said that, we've got to get there first and there are questions about us after this."

Of Marlon Harewood's first half substitution when Adam Nowland came on, he says:

"I was concerned that their midfield, where they were playing five, was over running us a little bit so it was a tactical decision just to put another central midfield player on.

"We made a mistake at Millwall, but we tried to correct it, though it still didn't work for us.

"I was not too pleased about the whole day and I am not even going to look at the play-offs at the moment; in the last three away games we have had question marks over us.

"It is my job to make sure we get out of this division and at the moment we aren't showing that sort of ability in those sorts of games.

"No team is going to be able to get the ball down and pass it like we tried to."

Alan wants his players to live up to their reputations and adds:

"We've got some players with big reputations; some of the players at Reading, the same as at Millwall, don't have such big reputations.

"But they are proving every bit as good and my players have got to appreciate that you've got to earn the right to play.

"We have a lot of work to do - I don't want these players thinking they will make the play-offs by just turning up and wearing a West Ham shirt; we have to be more aggressive."

Pavel Srnicek takes over in goal from the suspended Steve Bywater on Saturday, and Alan adds:

"His first game is not going to be easy after that defeat."