Galey's Starting Orders

FORMER Hammers star Tony Gale has praised the start West Ham United have made to the season and believes the Upton Park faithful will play a key role in the team's fortunes this season.

He said: "It's been an absolutely brilliant start. The win over Blackburn in front of a superb crowd was the best way to get the season up and running. There's nothing better for a promoted team to kick-off the season with a win, especially coming from behind as Hammers did.

"Of all three promoted teams West Ham United have made the best start and that is extremely encouraging. Usually it takes newly promoted teams a while to find their feet in the Premier League, so to take four points from a possible six is a great start.

"It's a huge confidence boost to get off to a positive start in a new League and I think this will give the squad something strong to build on over the next few games.

"Taking a point away from St James' Park, especially given the circumstances, was a good achievement. Hammers played well throughout the game, but when Paul Konchesky got sent off they really had to dig deep.

"The red card was ridiculous in my opinion and thankfully it got overturned. It was actually a tremendous tackle from Paul and he took the ball cleanly. He has shown great spirit as well as tremendous ability in these opening games and I think he's going to be an important player for the Club this season."

In his job as a pundit for Sky TV Galey has already seen Bolton in action this season against Aston Villa on the opening day of the campaign. And he warns that Sam Allardyce's men will be no easy task at Upton Park.

"Bolton are a tough team to beat," he said. "They defend very well and are hard to play against. A lot is made of their threat at set-pieces and that's something our defence will obviously have to guard against, but there's more to Bolton than that.

"The emphasis put on the long throws of Jay Jay Okocha and the power of Kevin Davies detracts from the very good football Bolton are capable of playing at times.

"They are not just a one dimensional team and that's something the Hammers will have to remember on Saturday.

"However, I've been really impressed with the defence in the opening two games. Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon have been excellent in the centre of defence and it's really encouraging that those two have struck up such a good understanding so early in the season.

"They both have tremendous pace, which js such an advantage for defenders at the top level today. In one-on-one situations they usually have the speed and perception to cope, which is a great insurance policy to allow the full-backs to push forward and join the attack.

"Behind them Roy Carroll brings experience to the side and I think he's going to be an important player this season."

A Premier League title winner during his time with Blackburn Rovers in 1995, Galey knows what it takes to succeed at the top level. And the former central defender insists home form is going to be crucial to Hammers this season.

"West Ham have got to make Upton Park into a fortress again," he said. "Home form is usually what helps promoted teams do well in their first season and making the most of the Boleyn Ground is going to be important this season.

"The way the fans lifted the team against Blackburn Rovers was a credit to the Club and very impressive. It's that kind of support that the Hammers are going to need at the Boleyn Ground this season, and knowing the Hammers faithful I'm sure they'll get it.

"There also seems to be a great spirit and optimism around the Club and if that continues I don't see any reason why West Ham United can't achieve a respectable finish in the Premiership."