Chris: Keep It Clean

Chris Powell says that keeping clean sheets has to be a priority in the upcoming games as West Ham look to close the gap on the leaders.

"I feel that over the years it has always been the major part of any team that has been promoted that you have to get a high number of clean sheets - and we haven't done that recently with the Derby game, Forest, and Ipswich," he says.

"So we need to improve on that because clean sheets obviously get you a point or points; if we get that, I always feel we are going to create at the other end.

"Since I have been here we have had the clean sheet at home to Rotherham and if we get that side of things right we won't always need to get more than one goal to get back in the game or in a winnable position.

"As a team you are always looking to improve and that is one area we are looking at.

"Jose Mourinho has shown the way and okay, it might not always be what the fans want because they want to see loads of goals, but I think you have always got to get it right before you can start talking about winning and creating chances.

"We have got the flair there without a doubt with the wide players, the midfielders and the centre forwards we have; I think if you get your back four and keeper right the rest will take care of itself.

"And with the calibre of players we have got in the positions ahead of the defence we are always going to create and hopefully take the chances that we do muster."

Looking at Saturday's Wolves game, he says:

"We realise we are the home side against a Wolves team who came down last season and for whom things haven't particularly gone to plan.

"But it is still going to be a difficult game because, as I am finding out, this league is not as clear cut as the Premier League in terms of which sides tend to win most games and which sides are fighting to get the points.

"As I have seen, anyone can beat anyone on a given day; Reading are top at the moment but they lost at Derby a number of weeks ago.

"So it will be a tricky game but I feel we have enough to win it."

It will probably be the last game that Paul Ince plays at Upton Park and, in contrast to the warm reception Chris got at his former club Derby, he will get plenty of vocal displeasure.

"I think sometimes it depends on how you leave; I know he did very well for West Ham but he left in quite acrimonious circumstances which didn't endear him to the fans he was leaving behind," says Chris.

"I left Derby and there was a lot of talk about why I left, that it was too early when I was at a club that was good for me at that particular time in my career.

"I was stunned like most people that I was allowed to leave and Jim Smith has gone on record and said that it was too early and that he had made a mistake.

"What is done is done and I bear no grudges against him; he was a fantastic man and manager but I was the start of a number of players that left Derby including Christian Dailly who was also sold.

"It was the break-up of a team that I think many of the fans felt could have gone on not only to stay in the Premier league but maybe to other things.

"But it is history now and I had a great reception which was very touching - but I was just desperate for a win!"

Chris might even have scored at Pride park if he had not chosen not to shoot on one occasion and he adds:

"The boss had a go at me and he was right; I should have taken that chance - I don't score many but it would have been good to open my account for West Ham.

"But we will soldier on and hopefully the chances will come to get us back to winning ways."

Chris reckons, as on Sunday, West Ham should have had all three points against his old club, and adds:

"I think on reflection looking back now after quite a lively start by Derby when obviously they scored we equalised and had a better share of the game with the better chances - and overall we were quite disappointed we didn't take the three, but we needed at least to respond after Sunday's defeat.

"We did that part of the way but it would have been a lot better if we had converted those chances and got the three points.

"There is a lot of self belief in the squad and we all felt if we imposed ourselves upon the game we could get back in it, and we did that relatively quickly after they scored - and then it was just a case of getting that second goal.

"But Derby defended for their lives and cleared two off the line, with their keeper making a couple of saves and we felt we had a bit of a claim for a penalty but it just wasn't to be.

"We restricted them to a header from their new Polish centre forward and that was it so I think Derby would be happier with their point than us."