Alan's Second Half Aim

ALAN Pardew insists that his team is going into the hectic Christmas period with confidence high.

The Hammers have earned two vital wins against Watford and Sunderland in the last two weeks, and with senior squad members like Teddy Sheringham and Malky Mackay returning to training, Pards believes that his squad is regaining its strength.

"We're certainly looking a lot stronger as a squad than we were a few weeks ago," said Alan, "and that is really important going into the Christmas period.

"We've got some big names coming back into action soon like Teddy Sheringham, Malky Mackay and hopefully Christian Dailly, who might be fit for the Boxing Day game.

"I'm certainly a lot happier with the depth of the squad than I was a few weeks ago and that is a good sign going into Christmas.

"If a team goes on an unbeaten run over Christmas then they can put themselves in a great position going into the New Year."

Pards stressed the importance of the busy Christmas schedule, as it offers form teams the chance to really close the gap on the League leaders. Now, with his West Ham United side just seven points off the top going into tomorrow's game against Leeds, Alan is looking for the Hammers to become the form side in the Championship over the second half of the season.  

"If we can be the best team over the second half of the season then there's a good chance that we will be promoted," insisted Pards. "Of course, we'd like to be closer to the top of the table. But the gap is only seven points and with the fierce competitiveness in the Championship it doesn't look like any team is going to run away with it.

"We're within sight of the top two going into Christmas and I don't think that's a bad position to be in. "Last season we lost touch with the leaders and left ourselves too much to do to win automatic promotion. We can't let that happen again."

Hard-fought victories over Watford and Sunderland have certainly altered the outlook at Upton Park of late. After the 1-0 defeat at Millwall Alan Pardew's men were starring down the barrel of three successive defeats, now they are on the verge of three successive wins. Pards reflected on the transformation.

"Going into the Watford game I wasn't happy," he admitted. "I want to be a success at West Ham United. I want to bring success to the fans and I want to repay the Chairman and the Board for showing such faith in me.

"The only way I can do that is to win games and a few weeks ago we weren't doing that. "But we kept our heads down, believed in our principles and kept faith in what we were doing. Now it has turned around. We showed tremendous character to come back from 2-0 down against Watford and proved that we have the ability to retrieve tough situations.

"Then the win at Sunderland put the belief back into the team and suddenly we are looking strong again. "Everyone knows that things can turn very quickly in football. I'm not one to look for turning points half way through a season. But hopefully at the end of this campaign, everyone, including myself, will get the promotion they crave."