Marlon Hits The Target

BEFORE the start of the season Marlon Harewood set himself a personal target of 15 goals. The 25-year-old hit-man has now surpassed that total, hitting his 16th of the season in February's 1-0 win over Gillingham.

But not having hit the target for five games the former Nottingham Forest forward insists that he wants to keep progressing, and that means scoring more goals as the Hammers look to push back into the Play-off zone.

"I set myself a target when the season started," explained Marlon, "and that was to score 15 goals. At the moment I've got 16, and I'm pleased to have reached that personal milestone.

"But, of course, my aim is to score as many goals as I can and I'm hoping to add a few more to that figure between now and the end of the season.

"Hopefully, they'll be important goals for the Club as well, goals that help to get us back into the Premiership.

"A lot of players set themselves targets, but you don't just want to meet those targets, you want to go passed them and set new standards for yourself.

"My main job is to score goals for West Ham United and help the team win. So naturally I'm not happy when I miss chances and come off the pitch with no goals. But I know I have to work hard to make sure I get in amongst the chances again and then when they come along again I'll be even more determined to put them away.

"Right now though results matter far more than who is scoring. This is a team game and first of all I've got to put all my efforts into hopefully being part of a winning team.

"You get disappointed when you miss chances, but as long as you work on that in training and make sure that the chances are still coming, then hopefully the goals will come as well."

Marlon has spent most of this season forging a successful partnership with Teddy Sheringham in attack, which has yielded 34 goals, while Bobby Zamora and Sergei Rebrov have provided support. And Marlon believes the various partnerships are benefiting from familiarity.

"We have all been playing together for a while now," he explained, "so we're getting more used to how each other plays. We realise each other's strengths and weaknesses a lot better now and as we go into these last eight games hopefully the strike partnerships, whoever it is, will be working well together.

"The important thing to remember is that it's a team game and whichever position you play, from goalkeeper to forward, you've got to work for the benefit of the team.

"That's going to be vitally important over the run-in, when wins are everything and we've really got to pull together and work hard for the Club."

International fixtures have amounted to a two-week break for the Hammers, but that time certainly hasn't gone to waste. Alan Pardew has put his squad to work preparing for the most vital stage of the season, and Marlon insists the Easter break has helped re-focus the team.

"I think it's been good for us to have a break," he admitted because we had quite  few games in a short space of time before Easter and these two weeks have given us time to focus on what's ahead.

"I think it'll benefit the lads to have a chance to recharge their batteries, let their bodies recover from knocks and take a breather from it all.

"We're using the time to make sure we are ready, fit and fired up to get a result at Wigan and then hopefully push on to a good run. This is going to be a massive period for us, beginning with a big game at Wigan on Saturday.

"We need to get a result to get back into the Play-off places. It's going to be tough but we've not got a bad record against the top sides and I'm sure they'll be some good support there for us to.

"The fans were fantastic up at the JJB Stadium last season and we'll need more of the same on Saturday, because it's a vital game and one that will be very tough."

Marlon and his team-mates know that they will face intense pressure going into the run-in, needing victories to make up ground in the race for the Play-offs. But the big striker insists it's something the players must deal with.
"We have to accept the pressure," he admitted candidly. "If you don't get results then you are going to be under pressure. That is what football is all about.

"It's being said all the time, but it's a results game and as a player you have to deal with playing under pressure. It's something you have to be able to do if you want to be successful.

"It's important to try and block out the external pressures to a certain extent so that it doesn't affect your game.

"But you also have to try and use the pressure to your advantage, because it can be a tremendous motivator. There's going to be pressure but we'll try and use it as positively as we can.

"There's no doubt as to what we have to do from now until the end of the season. That is to dig deep and make that final push, give it everything we've got and get those results we need."