Pards Finds Winning Spirit

BACK home in London with six points from two tough away games in the North West, Alan Pardew admitted West Ham's promotion push was now right back on track.

After watching his side grind out a vital 1-0 win at Burnley, the Hammers boss insisted that the team was looking more balanced and confident than at any point during this season, with excellent performances at both ends of the pitch.

"We're absolutely delighted with the Burnley result," exclaimed Pards. "It was always going to be a very tough place to come, and after winning at Wigan we knew that it was important not too slip up.

"I think we showed tremendous battling qualities. Burnley have got a terrific defensive record and they were never going to give a lot away. But we stayed patient and got the winner in the end.

"That's six points from our two games in the North West. That was obviously the target when we left London last Friday and to achieve that in two very tricky games is massively important.

"You can see that there's a real good spirit around the side now, and that's going to be crucial in this run-in. We've perhaps done things the wrong way around, drawing our last two home games and then winning these two away games.

"But to be honest, we played well in both those home games and were unfortunate not to take more points from them. The team recognise that they're playing well at the moment, and that's breeding plenty of confidence in the dressing room."

Pards was similarly delighted with the performance of a comparitively young Hammers team over the two games. In central defence Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward, both just 20, showed maturity well beyond their years, while up front Teddy Sheringham displayed class and determination well below his, supported by the powerful running of Marlon Harewood.

"We had some really good performances over the two games," enthused Pards. "The two young guys at the back have done really well for us. They had another solid game at Burnley when they came under plenty of pressure and I've been very impressed by them.

"Christian Dailly and Malky Mackay now face a fight to get back in the side and that's exactly how it should be.

"At the other end of the pitch, I don't think I've ever seen our front two working so well together. Teddy and Marlon looked really dangerous again at Burnley and although Teddy got the goal Marlon did really well to set it up.

"Some of their link up play over the last few games has been top-class and we're going to need those two at their very best for the rest of the run-in."

Two down, and six more games to go for the Hammers it's going to be a fight right to the end for Alan Pardew and his squad. But the Hammers boss insists his team are starting to prove their promotion credentials at just the right time.

"I always said the last ten games are going to be where it's won and lost," he explained. "Our last four performances have been very good. We didn't get the results we deserved over the two home games, but we've hit back in the best possible way at Wigan and Burnley, and that six points has put us back in a very strong position to make the Play-offs.

"We've done very well, but we're not even back in the Play-off places yet and it's no use thinking our job is done. We face another really tough game at home to Coventry at the weekend and there can't be any respite because there are a lot of teams chasing those Play-off places.

"But we've got good players in the team who are playing well, there's a really encouraging spirit among the players and we go into the Coventry game positive that we can keep this good run going.