Pards Predicts A Tough Test At Portsmouth

WEST Ham United come face to face with ex-Hammer Harry Redknapp for the first time at the Boxing Day clash with Portsmouth.

The south coast side have been rejuvenated by the recent arrival of their former boss, and gained only their third win of the season last weekend, defeating fellow strugglers West Brom.

Alan Pardew knows his side will be in for a tough time at Fratton Park, not only down to the 'Arry factor, but also the weather.

"Whenever I've seen his teams play they've always looked to win the game and entertain," said Pards. "There are too many managers that are inhibited, and you could never call Harry's team's that.

"They're in a difficult position now, and he perhaps can't be as flamboyant as he'd like, having to get results quickly.

"Regardless of personalities, when somebody goes and somebody else comes in it's a new challenge for everybody, a fresh start. That's what it is for them.

"You can see it in their performances. Sometimes players need energising and he's done that in the last two games against Spurs and West Brom. Certainly our reports suggest that.

"It's going to be a tough game for us down there obviously with the wind, and the way that stadium works, it creates such a fantastic atmosphere with the fans there. I remember getting absolutely destroyed down there when I was with Reading and we had a good team.

"The wind can whip up down there. Premiership stadiums are so enclosed now that the elements are not always a factor, but at Portsmouth it still plays a big part.

"Hopefully it'll be a nice cold still day, but that stadium can rock. It makes a hell of a lot of noise and it's a difficult place to go."

Despite last week's set back the confidence is still sky high, and Alan continues to look onwards and upwards, always taking away the positives.

"I was really disappointed after the Newcastle game, a couple of reports suggested I'd talked my team up and I'd never do that. I just see it how I see it, and I honestly believed we were the better side. Four or five mistakes and a world-class finisher saw us off.

"I said from day one that for us, success is staying in the Premiership, but we've got ourselves into a decent position and we're looking up.

"If we get three points we'll be up and around the teams looking at Europe and that's where we want to look, not below. Once you start doing that you begin to start looking at negativity and doubt, and that's something we haven't had this year.

"This team has had its success from looking up, looking forward, setting it's goals high and trying to achieve them.

"I've come here to win things. I feel I've got that opportunity, with the fan base especially, and that's what I intend to do as soon as possible.

"When I arrived it was a terrible time, but it's worked out alright and hopefully it will continue. We have a good base of players who are fighting the cause. Our fans want to see that in a West Ham jersey and they are getting that at the moment."

The manager is definitely building for the future, towards a long a successful reign. Something Hammers fans thought they might not see for a while only a few years ago.

Things change quickly in football however, and it wasn't in the too distant past that Harry's Hammers were up in the top half of the Premiership table.

"People speak fondly about Harry," said Alan.

"All the people I've spoken to at the training ground had a little chuckle and a smile. You can't have too many characters and he's good for the game.

"In his era there were great times here and he was fondly remembered. I have nothing but respect for the guy and he'll do a good job at Portsmouth, but hopefully for us we'll get the result.

"Whenever I've seen him or spoken to him he's been good to me and that's how I treat people, how they treat me.

"I spoke to him about this job, and on other occasions and he's been very kind with the things he's said as well and has helped me. This is a club you need to get a feel for and he was very positive and complimentary about things that happened to him here.

"Under the circumstances Portsmouth have probably made a good move in taking him there. If there is someone to get them out of the trouble they're in he would be the man."