Galey Calls For Fast Start

FORMER Hammers star Tony Gale believes Alan Pardew's side must start the game well against Middlesbrough on Sunday and make life difficult for the visitors straight from the kick-off.

Boro were in UEFA Cup action on Thursday night, winning 1-0 at Swiss side Grasshoppers, and Galey knows that the best time to test tired legs will be in the opening stages of Sunday's Upton Park clash.

"West Ham really need to start at a fast pace against Middlesbrough," he said. "The Hammers need to get at them in the opening 15 or 20 minutes, because that's really where Boro's fitness will be tested.

"If they let Middlesbrough get into the game their confidence will grow and the tough trip to Switzerland will be forgotten.

"But if West Ham start well, really get the crowd behind them then it will become very difficult for Boro to get into the game."

Galey also believes Hammers need a positive reaction after a disappointing display last time out against Manchester City.

"I think they perhaps paid Manchester City a bit too much respect," he admitted. "That result could well serve as a bit of a wake up call, because the team have been getting a lot of well-deserved praise recently, but now they have to respond to a performance that wasn't their best.

"But one result certainly doesn't make West Ham United a bad side. It's been an excellent start to the season and the team can be rightly proud of what they have achieved so far.

"The Middlesbrough game is a test for them and Alan Pardew and Peter Grant will be looking for a response from the players.

"The home form is really what will define this season for West Ham. The team have been good at home so far and need to keep that run going.

"So far, they've really gone for it, no matter the opposition, got stuck in and made it difficult for teams to play. It's that kind of performance Alan will be looking for again against Middlesbrough.

"It's also really important that the crowd gets behind the team and creates the kind of atmosphere that we've seen at Upton Park so far this season."

After what was only West Ham United's second defeat of the season, Galey does not believe a change to the side is necessary for the visit of Boro. But he does admit that Bobby Zamora's stake for a starting place will become hard to ignore, as will be the influence of Yossi Benayoun from the middle of the park.

"Much like Eyal Berkovic, I think Yossi Benayoun will play his best when there is three at the back and three in midfield," explained Tony. "That allows him to push on behind the front two.

"Alan has switched his formation to three at the back in the last two games now, allowing Yossi to play inside and have more of an impact on the game. He's a terrific player and when on form he'll really make things happen for the team.

"Bobby Zamora took his goal very well at the City of Manchester Stadium and will no doubt be chomping at the bit to get a start. His time will come I'm sure and when it does there will be no one more determined than Bobby to prove his worth.

"There certainly can be no criticism of the way the team have played so far this season and with a strong performance hopefully they can get back to winning ways against Middlesbrough on Sunday."