Christian: We'll Be Stronger

Christian Dailly insists the bitter disappointment of losing to Crystal Palace in the playoff final will only serve to strengthen his resolve to help West Ham bounce up automatically next season.

And he also says:

* Michael Carrick should have been given a penalty for a 'reckless' challenge on him in Cardiff.

* The young players that have come to the club will be much improved for their experience this term.

* A chat with the manager in the aftermath of Cardiff has left him convinced that West Ham can get off to a flying start next time around.

Christian is typically frank in his assessment of the play-off final and admits:

"I think we could have played better and some boys will feel they didn't do as well as they can - that was the most disappointing thing.

"Palace probably were still better in the game even though they were at the their best and had a bit more in the bag.

"We feel if we had really got going in the game we could have won convincingly - but we didn't do it, and you have got to give Palace credit for capitalising on that.

"Maybe the occasion got to some a little bit and there was obviously a big build-up to the game.

"I think some people found it a bit difficult to handle on the day and after all that the game was maybe a bit flat; some of the games are a bit like that in the finals.

"It was quite tight, whereas on paper you would have thought it might be a bit open; it affected both teams a little bit but it probably suited Palace a bit more as we try and play more."

As for Neil Shipperley's winning goal, Christian reflects:

"It was just one of these scrappy ones with a deflection, but that was one of those things; we had enough in our team to score two or three goals."

As for the spot kick that wasn't awarded, Christian insists:

"It probably was a penalty; I wasn't sure at the time, though the boy probably caught the ball a little bit and it was reckless - so he will think he was lucky not to have given it away.

"But it is in the past now, and we have to look forward; all I am doing is that, though of course I was feeling down and disappointed for a few days.

"To be honest, you have got to start thinking about getting ready for next season, and I think we will be all the better from the experience point of view for having a season in the division."

So how did he cope with the emotions that followed the game?

"You just go home to your family and wallow in it for a few days," he reveals, "then, as I say, you have to start preparing for a new season.

"You have to have that mental toughness for the next campaign."

Christian has already had a discussion with Alan Pardew about the forthcoming season and he adds:

"I spoke to him about that after the season and he was quite positive about it; the manager has got a clear run now ahead of him with preseason.

"He only came in earlier in the season and we have had three managers, we lost 20 players, and there was a lot of chopping and changing, even within the staff.

"With the lack of experience we had in the team at times I thought we did well to get in the playoffs and I thought it would have been a great achievement had we managed to get in the Premiership.

"I think the team had improved significantly by the end of the season to merit being there and that is why I think next season we will have even more."

He knows there will be departures and adds:

"It is important what happens now and ideally you want to keep everybody, there is no doubt about that.

"But you can say this every year and you know there will be people going, we are aware of that.

"It is sad to see them go but that is why the manager has brought in some good young players and they have managed to get some experience in the last year, not just playing week in, week out but playing at West Ham - which is slightly different.

"You have got to have more about you to play for us - it is different from playing for other teams.

"Micky Carrick is a class player and a great lad as well - he has been at the club for six or seven years now, but he is still young.

"We all want him to stay but in the end I suppose it is going to be up to Michael and the club has already stated it is looking for the highest bidder.

"There is nothing we can do about it because at the end of the day the club, the board, and the chairman have to make financial decisions and they will do that with Michael."

As for his own situation, he adds:

"I will definitely be there, no doubt about it - there is no way I would want to leave and I want to get us up.

"I love West Ham and I am captain of the team; I take full responsibility for a lot of things that go out of the place.

"I am quite happy to put myself out there with the young lads to get promotion next year."

Christian reserves a special mention for the supporters, and says:

"The fans have been brilliant and the second playoff game against Ipswich was one of the most fantastic experiences I have had in all my time in football.

"When we won the game people were telling us that was one of the best atmospheres they had ever seen at Upton Park - and that was from people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies who hadn't seen it like that in thirty years.

"That spurred everyone on and it the sort of nights we want to be having regularly - and we will only get that by achieving success which will benefit everybody."

So now Christian, a proud Scot of course, will be supporting everyone who plays against England in Portugal?

"Yes - basically!

"It has been annoying for me because I have lost two play-offs this year with the Holland games and the first division play-off final.

"It is a couple of massive kicks in the teeth but I suppose it makes you mentally stronger and all the more determined to do it next year.

"At least I still have my teeth to be kicked!"