Christian Looks Ahead

Christian Dailly is hoping it is a case of 'better luck next time' as he revisits the Millennium stadium on Saturday.

"The only time I have played there was when we got beaten 4-0 for Scotland - but I actually enjoyed the game and the experience of playing there," he says.

"It is a great stadium, and we will have huge support there, which will be a big bonus for us.

"We just want to get the game played; it was quite good to have a little break but the boys are just itching to get on with it now.

"I am not having sleepless nights - I just want to play because it is such a big game.

"We have worked really hard all season and we just want to have that one last match now - and win it."

Christian is thinking positively but he knows that there is heartbreak in store comparable with relegation last year if the Hammers lose.

"It will feel as bad as that," he admits, "but we are not really thinking about it to be honest - we just want to go and win the game and see what happens.

"It is probably the most exhilerating and satisfying way to get in the Premiership - but it is certainly the most disappointing way to go out as well.

"We will do everything we can to make sure that no one connected with West Ham has any fear on Saturday."

The hope of the neutrals watching the game on television is that it lives up to its billing and eclipses the last game at the Millennium stadium - the less than thrilling FA cup final between Manchester United and Millwall.

But Christian insists:

"The only billing we want it to live up to is that we win; I wouldn't mind if it the worst game in the world, to be honest - we just want to be in the Premiership again."

Defensively, Christian feels the Hammers are sound, and he adds:

"It has been going fine and I think we have only conceded about three goals in the last eight games, which has been important."

A lot of that credit, says the team captain, goes to the club skipper.

"I think Steve Lomas coming back in the side has made a difference to us as well, because he does a great job in the middle of that park," he enthuses.

"I think, at times, the job that the midfielders do for the team is underestimated.

"Steve has the type of defensive job I do for Scotland in midfield, and he is helping Michael Carrick as well.

"There is quite a bit of experience in the spine of the team there and I think that has been important in picking up the points to get us to the playoff final.

"He is a players' player and when he is alongside you appreciate him perhaps more than the people on the side do.

"He is an essential part of West Ham."

As are the fans, of course, and Christian's ears are still ringing from the noise they made against Ipswich at Upton Park, propelling the team through to Saturday's final.

"That is as good an atmosphere that I have played in, I must say, and it will be difficult if we can ever beat that again," he reckons.

"It would be great if we could - and if Upton Park was like that every week we would win an unbelievable amount of games.

"It was a great experience that night and I am just glad we got the result to make everyone happy.

"But we have still got a bit to do now.

"That was great and I think everyone understood that if we got one goal we would be right back in it.

"When we came out in the second half with the place still bouncing it gave everyone a lift.

"You could see from the way the players approached that game we were lifted by it and there are a lot of good memories from that night.

"People connected with the club for years and years say they have rarely heard it like that."

As for the final obstacle between West Ham and the Premiership, Christian says:

"To be fair to Crystal Palace they have had such a brilliant run since Iain Dowie took over and they will feel they have earned it themselves.

"They have caught up a great number of points over relatively few games and it is probably championship winning form that they have shown.

"It is going to be a really tough game for us on Saturday.

"They have pace all around the side and they have experience with the likes of Shipperley as well, so it will be a tough game."

Training at Chadwell Heath has been excellent - the players travel to Cardiff on Thursday - and Christian says:

"It has been good; everyone has been pretty bubbly and it is a fully fit squad.

"The manager has got a headache picking his side for the game but everyone is just looking forward to it.

"No injuries - that doesn't often happen at West Ham, does it?"