Pearce Welcomes Hammers Back

FORMER Hammer Stuart Pearce has admitted his delight at West Ham United's return to the Premiership and praised the efforts of manager Alan Pardew.

The former Nottingham Forest defender joined West Ham in August 1999 and became a fans' favourite during his time with the Club.

He said: "I spent two great years at West Ham and it's a great club with fantastic and passionate supporters.

"I was really pleased for them after Monday's Final and especially proud for Alan Pardew. He's had to face up to a lot of stick this season, much of it undeserved.

"But he's kept working hard and the club have got the reward. An interview Alan gave after the game was an example to everyone in football.

"It was dignified and honest, and when things go well in football it's nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the moment and let everyone else do the talking."

Pearce, who is now manager of Manchester City, will pit his wits against Pards in the Premier League next season, and is looking forward to the challenge.

"I've met Alan on some coaching courses that we've taken together," he added, "and have always got on well with him.

"In management, sometimes you've got to stand up and take the stick for the players so they can get on with their job and I think that's what he's done for the squad.

"At the end of the game in Cardiff you could see the emotion and in the celebrations it showed that there was a tight bond between him and his players.

"I'd like to say well done to everyone at the club for a great achievement."