Pards: No room for complacency

Alan Pardew has warned that Hammers must be at their very best to overturn bottom of the Premiership Sunderland on Saturday.

On the back of a famous victory at Highbury on Wednesday night, the Hammers boss rightly encouraged the confidence flowing through his squad at present but also insisted that there can be no room for complacency against the team who claimed the Championship title at Upton Park just nine months ago.

"Last year they were deserved Champions, no doubt about it," said Pards. "They were the best team in the Championship and for whatever reason, it hasn't worked out for them this year.

"You can't fault the desire of the team or the manager, who I greatly admire, and their assistant manager Ian Evans, who was my coach at Crystal Palace. They are handling the situation with great dignity and are attacking every game they play with the same attitude towards work rate.

"They just haven't had things fall their way. You need that first result and they never had that. They've had no breaks. We've had a series of situation that have worked out for us.

"I think Mick McCarthy's team will come here determined to get a result for the fans, themselves and the team. We need to be on our guard and if we lower our standards one iota we'll get beaten."

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Last season's visit of the Wearsiders saw them crowned Champions, while Pardew's team were still left wondering where the season would take them.

"It was a milestone for us as well, said Pards, "because in some respects it was a game we should have won. We came off knowing that they were celebrating, that they were Champions and it set a little seed in our heads. We thought: 'we want a piece of that'.

"We all made a mental note that the season was still alive for us and we managed to get our bit a few weeks later in the playoff final.

"We had problems with injuries last year and we never really got a settled back four until really late in the day. Once we had that we looked a really good side and we finished the season probably better than anyone else, including Sunderland.

"We were on a great run at the time and that was the only blip. It shows the power they had at the time because we were in full flow."

That night, European football looked a million miles away from Upton Park but now, although not wanting to get carried away, Hammers are sitting pretty with confidence at its optimum.

"I like to look up and set our goals high, said Pards. "We have two avenues for a European place, and although I didn't think I'd hear myself say this, it's a realistic opportunity and we have to try and grab it.

"You have to look at the power of the squad and how they've coped with the Premiership. If we were winning games where we were conceding possession, hanging on and trying to steal things on the break then I would say Europe was unrealistic for us.

"We haven't done that. In 75 per cent of our games we've controlled possession, had the lions share of chances and won games. The signals are that we can do it. I wouldn't sell the players a goal I didn't think was achievable for them."