Alan's All About Attitude

ALAN Pardew brought his Hammers side to the Stadium of Light with one simple instruction - break a run of eight away games without a win.

His players responded in perfect fashion, as goals from Marlon Harewood and Teddy Sheringham secured the Hammers a 2-0 victory over third place Sunderland, who had not lost a home game this season before entertaining the Hammers.

After the game, Pards praised the attitude of his players, who controlled the game from start to finish, and emerged with a well-deserved three points.

"I thought our attitude was excellent," exclaimed Pards. "The Stadium of Light is a very difficult place to come and Sunderland hadn't lost a home game all season.

"On the other hand, our away results haven't been the best of late, so the odds were against us. But we came here determined to change our away form and that was reflected in a great performance.

"We put them under immense pressure right from the kick-off and never gave them time to settle. I was a little disappointed that we didn't kill the game off in the last 20 minutes, when they came back at us, but apart from that I'm delighted with the win."

Despite the home side feeling aggrieved at the 42nd minute sending off of Stephen Caldwell, after the Black Cats defender had tangled with Luke Chadwick, Pards felt there was some justification for the decision.

"It did look like he was clambering all over Luke," admitted Alan, "and it was a tough decision for the referee. I thought the sending off showed that they were getting frustrated and although the numerical advantage turned the game in our favour, I thought we had looked more than comfortable before that as well.

"We have a way of approaching games when teams have gone down to 10 men. Half-time gave us the chance to set our strategy and in the second-half we went out and showed a lot of discipline.

"It was a very tight game against a side that had been in a good run of form, but I thought we worked very hard, pressed our man advantage and scored two very well-worked goals."

Pards was forced into yet more defensive changes at Sunderland, restoring Carl Fletcher to midfield in place of the suspended Nigel Reo-Coker and bringing Anton Feridnand in at centre-half. It was a change that certainly proved fruitful as the Hammers rearguard held the Black Cats at bay to keep their first clean sheet away from home since the opening day of the season.

"We put in a very strong defensive performance," said Alan. "We have changed the defence 19 times this season and really struggled for any continuity, so to put in the kind of solid display that we did at the back is really pleasing.

"Our midfield dominated the game for long periods and really made it difficult for them. Luke Chadwick and Matty Etherington looked really dangerous, while Marlon's presence and Sergei's touch in attack gave us a useful combination."

The 2-0 win, after the 3-2 comeback against Watford, marks back-to-back victories for the Hammers, banishing the memory of defeats to Brighton and Millwall. Pards admitted that the Club have felt the pressure of criticism, and responded in the best way possible.

"There has been a lot of criticism of me, the team and the Club recently," confessed Pards. "West Ham United is a very big club, with big ambitions, and when things don't go well there is always going to be a certain amount of frustration.

"Add to that the number of set-backs we've had of late, losing players through injury and suspension, and it's been very tough. But we accepted the criticism, got on with the job, and have now earned two very good results.

"We have a very big game against Leeds at Upton Park on Friday and we'll turn our attention towards that this week. The result at Sunderland was excellent, but we need to build on that now by putting a strong run together over Christmas and moving really start to push back up the table."