Pard's Pays Fans Tribute

ALAN Pardew has paid tribute to the support of Hammers fans ahead of this weekend's Championship clash with Brighton and believes that his squad now possess the quality to break down the stubborn resistance of teams visiting Upton Park.

"I have to thank supporters for their patience," said Alan. "Teams coming to Upton Park look to put men behind the ball and make it difficult for us to break them down, and I know it can be frustrating for the fans.

"But I think we have more quality to open teams up this season, and we proved that against Queens Park Rangers last weekend.

"The support from the fans was tremendous, and I think we showed in that game that we've got the ability to recover from setbacks. We played really well in the first-half, and maybe should have got the second goal that our forward play deserved.

"They came back at us in the second-half, but we never gave up and Marlon scored a fantastic winner.

"The players were first-class and deserve credit for a very good performance that has put us right back into contention again."

Alan warns, though, that Brighton will make it very tough for the Hammers at Upton Park on Saturday.

"Brighton have had some great away wins already this season, and there¹s no doubt they will make it difficult for us.

"They¹ve done extremely well to hold their own in this League with very limited resources and I expect any team put together by Mark McGhee to be very tough to beat."

Alan is also looking forward to the possibility of facing his old Crystal Palace team-mate Steve Claridge, who signed for Brighton today and could play against the Hammers.

"I know Steve is hoping to make a comeback with Brighton," said Alan, "and if he does play I wish him all the best."

With several of the Championship's top clubs playing each other this weekend, Alan insists that taking three points against Brighton is even more vital to move the Hammers up the table.

"A few of the top teams are playing each other this weekend," he explained, "and we have to capitalise on that by getting a win. Plymouth did everyone at the top of the table a big favour by beating Wigan, and it made our victory over QPR even more important."
³Now we need another three points to really move us closer to the leaders.²