Pards reflects on a rollercoaster week

It has certainly been a rollercoaster of a week for West Ham United, starting with the high of the semi-final win on Sunday and ending with the news today that Hayden Mullins will definitely be missing the FA Cup final as his red card against Liverpool has been upheld.

However, Alan Pardew admits that, now the decision has been made, it is time to move on and focus on the job in hand - starting with Monday night's trip to relegation strugglers West Bromwich Albion.

"It has certainly been a strange week," says Pards. "We had the obvious jubilation of Sunday, then the game on Wednesday which I thought was a great match, but one that was overshadowed by the incident with Hayden, so it's been an up and a down really.

"Now that the decision has been made to uphold the red card, obviously everyone's hearts go out to Hayden and his family and he will be a big loss, but we have to accept the decision, move on and prepare for our next game against West Brom."

Monday's trip to the Hawthorns for our final away game of the season has a huge bearing on the relegation battle at the bottom of the Premiership and the Hammers boss knows his team must put on a good performance.

"We realise what a big game this is for West Brom in terms of their relegation battle and of course how it affects the other teams down there like Birmingham and Portsmouth, so we know we have to produce a very good display."

And anyone concerned the Hammers may be fielding a weakened team on Monday need not be worried because, as far as Pards is concerned, preparations for the Cup final in a fortnight begin here and now.

He says: "In an ideal scenario I would be fielding my Cup final team in these last two league games but I do have some problems at the moment with injuries to key players so that may not necessarily be possible, in which case we will just put out our strongest team possible.

Now we know we will be without Hayden, we have to look at different options there but at the moment we are also without Konchesky (groin), Gabbidon (back), Collins (Groin), and Ashton (groin), so those players may well have to be rested on Monday. This does provide a chance to look at my players who I know will want to give me food for thought when it comes to picking that final team for Cardiff."

Finally, our FA Cup semi-final opponents Middlesbrough once again staged a dramatic comeback in their UEFA Cup campaign to beat Steaua Bucherest 4-3 last night and book themselves a place in the final, and Pards was delighted with their result, not just for English football but because it highlighted how big a win it was for Hammers on Sunday against Steve McClaren's team.

"When people said after the game on Sunday that we beat Middlesbrough because they were tired I thought that was a bit of an injustice to us.," he says.

"Our second-half performance was put down to Middlesbrough being jaded rather than because we stepped up a gear but last night they proved they are not a tired team at all, they still have a lot in their locker and they are a very good team so I am very proud that we can now say we beat the UEFA Cup finalists."

By Miranda Nagalingam