Pards Praises Upton Park Atmosphere

ALAN Pardew guided his team to a fantastic 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers in West Ham United's Premier League return and then admitted that the atmosphere at Upton Park had been the best he had ever seen in his time as Hammers boss.

Goals from Teddy Sheringham, Nigel Reo-Coker and Matty Etherington secured three fantastic points on the opening day of the Premier League season, but Pards was quick to stress the role played by the sell-out crowd inside the Boleyn Ground.

"I've never seen Upton Park like that before," confessed Alan. "It was a fantastic day for us. I think at this stage it's important not to get carried away, because we've only won one game and there's a very long way to go this season.

"But the atmosphere inside the Stadium against Blackburn really gave me heart, because if the fans are like that every week it's going to make it really tough for the opposition.

"You can wait a long time in the Premier League for your first win and it's a huge boost to have that under our belts. We can also say that we've competed against a very strong Blackburn side, and although we've got the victory I think one of the most important things to come out of the game was the fact that we were really competitive.

"That's something we can take into the rest of the season. The most important aim for me, the players and staff is to keep West Ham United in the Premier League and continue to build. The win against Blackburn is a step towards that goal."

Hammers trailed Blackburn 1-0 at half-time after Andy Todd had put the visitors ahead on 18 minutes. But West Ham United came out firing for the second-half and within a minute of the re-start had pulled themselves back to level terms.

It must have been some half-time team-talk from the Hammers boss.

"At half-time we spoke about belief," revealed Pards. "In the first 20 minutes it didn't look as though we had that and we seemed to feel almost a level below them still.

"But we had a strong spell just before half-time and that really gave us something to build on.

"We spoke about passing the ball well, and the need to keep the ball moving because we didn't think they'd be able to work at that rate for the entire game.

"That proved true, because we played some really good football in the second-half.

"We had three really key things going for us against Blackburn. Firstly, character and that's something this team have shown a lot of over the past few months, which came through again.

"Secondly, pace which I felt was a key factor against Blackburn and lastly the fitness levels and power of the team. Those are really strong areas for us and we knew they would be because we had those attributes last year as well.

"The one thing which was going to be a test was to see if we had the quality to match the teams at this level. It was pleasing to see us show our quality against Blackburn, especially in the second-half."

Pards handed debuts to four players against Blackburn - Roy Carroll, Danny Gabbidon, Yossi Benayoun and Paul Konchesky all doing the claret and blue proud in their first outings. But the Hammers boss was keen to stress the team ethic which helped secure three valuable Premiership points.

"I don't want to single too many players out because it was an excellent team performance," admitted Alan. "The centre-halves did have a very tough job and they were both fantastic, while Hayden Mullins had one of the best games I've seen him play for West Ham.

"Marlon Harewood up front gave one of the most complete performances I've seen from him and again Teddy Sheringham's contribution was crucial to us. He sets things off and thinks for the team, as does Yossi Benayoun who did very well.

"Teddy certainly didn't want to come off because that's the sort of player he is and I'm sure he's going to give me a hard time over it!

"But at this level I felt that we had to make sure we sealed the victory, our first one back in the Premier League, and it gives us a lot of confidence going into the away game at Newcastle next Saturday."