Tony: A Good Deal

Tony Gale is looking for new signing Carl Fletcher to bring some energy to the side - and reckons that at 24 he is a good age to be joining West Ham.

"Everyone seemed to think we were going into the market for experienced defenders like Matt Elliot or Gerry Taggart but it turns out we have got a younger guy who could have a future rather than a stop gap type of player," says Tony.

"He has been at Bournemouth all his career so Peter Grant will know a lot about him and will have had a word with my old friend, Sean O' Driscoll, the Bournemouth manager who I used to play with at Fulham, and I am sure he will have given him a glowing reference."

Tony also believes that the fact he has just recently forced his way into the reckoning for the Welsh squad is another plus, and adds:

"Wales are much improved and if Mark Hughes has got him in the squad he clearly thinks a lot of him as well.

"It will be interesting to see if Alan slings him straight into the team and where Alan and Peter thinks his best position is.

"I am sure he can go right into it and give us that bit of energy - and a bit of toughness to our play."

Alan Pardew reckons Carl can bring a touch of class to the team as well and Tony adds:

"Bournemouth is a good passing side and always has been under Sean O' Driscoll so hopefully we can pass the ball a little bit better with him because we can improve that department.

"It is a thing the club has become used to; even if it has had losses it has had a good footballing side and I am sure Alan is emulating that tradition of playing the right way."

Several clubs were chasing Carl but Tony is sure he has made the right choice.

"We are still a big club and I think players will always prefer us when they are looking at Championship sides - West Ham still has that kind of pull," he explains.

Tony does not envisage one side pulling away in the race for promotion this season, and concludes:

"It is going to be a very even league, as the result against Coventry showed; we are up one week and down the next.

"That is happening all over; I was at Leicester at the Bank Holiday and they were undeniably clear favourites for the game against Brighton but in the end were beaten by a side that could go down this season - and that is how close this division is."