Nigel's Smiling

Nigel Reo-Coker says his winning debut against Rotherham gave him a huge boost - and he is optimistic that the home victory, and recent acquisitions made by Alan Pardew, can be the springboard to success.

"I enjoyed it very much and I hope I set high standards and that the fans will take a liking to me - and that I can perform to the same level week in, week out," he says of the game in which he fitted in seamlessly to begin his Upton Park career.

Typically, though, for one that sets his standards so high, he adds:

"I am disappointed I didn't score against Rotherham because it would have been nice to mark my debut with a goal, but that is football.

"It was great to be embraced by so many people on your home debut; it gives you that extra thirst and energy to want to do well.

"But I would not concentrate so much on my own individual performance because the important thing for me was that the team won the game."

Although Nigel admits to being noisy on the field he reveals that he was quite the opposite before his debut last weekend.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous but once I cross that white line I am a different player - and the players made it easier to settle in and just go out there and express myself," he says.

"It is something that comes easy to me; nothing fazes me and it is something I have been doing since I was very young - it is commitment and the will to win.

"I guess there is a lot less responsibility on your shoulders not being skipper as I was at Wimbledon, but at the same time I have always been a natural-born leader and I was still bossing players around, even the captain himself, Christian Dailly - he handled that very well!

"There aren't a lot of voices in the team and Alan told me to do what I was doing at Wimbledon, not to change my game for anyone, so that's what I did.

"I had the respect of the players so that made it a lot more easy for me to go out and enjoy it.

"It was telling the lads to stay focused on the job in hand; the main thing I have noticed here is that when we do concede goals we fall asleep so I was just making sure everyone kept on their toes and kept the buzz going.

"The game did make me feel like I had moved on a stage, and it was a big step up because it was the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of.

"But I still had to go out there and show that Alan had invested in the right type of player for the club.

"I just made sure that the team knew what we had to do, that we had to go out there and win the game, and I had to be strong.

"It doesn't matter whether you are in the first division or the Premiership; you have to go out there and cope under pressure, hold teams out for the 90 minutes and get the win."

It is Nigel's vocal - and energetic - style that have already earned him comparisons with Paul Ince and he says:

"There have been a lot of words comparing me to Paul Ince saying that I am the next Paul Ince; that is very flattering, but I am Nigel Reo-Coker!"

Nigel already had a couple of friends amongst the Hammers fraternity, and he adds:

"I already knew a couple of the lads before I came here like Anton Ferdinand and Marlon Harwood, and that has made it easier to settle in - as have the staff, such as the kit man. "I definitely think this is where the run starts for us now - there is a great atmosphere in the changing room and in training.

"Everyone believes we can go on a run and so do I."

Nigel says his feelings of optimism are shared by his ex-Wimbledon colleagues Adam Nowland, who also made his debut at the weekend, and Jobi McAnuff, who could do the same at Bradford.

"They look like they are settling in okay and doing fine; they are enjoying it, as I am.

"I am thoroughly relishing the great feeling at the club and there is genuine belief we can do it."

As for his time at Wimbledon, for whom Alan Pardew has expressed sympathy, he adds:

"There was a lot of speculation about a transfer but I tended not to concentrate on that, just focus on my performances for Wimbledon Football Club.

"I was disappointed by the situation at Wimbledon but it was out of the players' and manager's hands - we had to rise above it with a very young team.

"It was very hard on us - sometimes we would get paid and sometimes we wouldn't - but it was the people upstairs that were in charge of running the club.

"We tried to concentrate on the footballing aspect but it was very hard when the team had an average age of about 21.

"My mentality was, though, you play every game like it could be your last.

"There could be scouts there and you try to play to better yourself and let off-the-field matters handle themselves."

Nigel could have made a direct step up to the Premiership but explains:

"Yes, Leicester were also interested in me - but I could see the potential at West Ham and I have played against Alan's sides when he was at Reading.

"But I now have the chance of being in a team which has a lot of quality players despite being relegated in the summer and is working towards being promoted and I want to be part of all that.

"I believe we are a Premiership club and that we can get back there this season, and I thought it would be nice to start afresh and grow with the team."