The Perfect Tonic

He may have a heavy cold, but Hammers' second-half revival proved the perfect tonic for an under the weather Alan Pardew.

"A win for us today was more important for us than Aston Villa and we were absolutely desperate for a victory," declared Pards after Bobby Zamora's header and Marlon Harewood's ice-cool spot-kick wiped out Lee Hendrie's 28th-minute opener. "Following our recent run, we couldn't afford to get beaten again because there would've been a big question mark over whether we could ever rediscover our exuberance.

"If a team loses its confidence and it's will to win, then it can be very difficult to get a victory again.

"We were disappointed at half-time because we had worked hard but we were losing, the quality just wasn't there and we weren't sticking to our game plan.

"I made it clear to the players that our first-half performance just hadn't been good enough."

But just when it looked like Hammers were about to slump to a fourth successive Premiership defeat, they emerged for the restart and simply turned the game on its head to the dismay of Villa boss David O'Leary, who admitted that his side had been 'outbattled, outfought and knocked all over the pitch by a good honest bunch of lads.'

"For 25 minutes after the interval we just went up a gear and we're hard to deal with when we're like that," observed Pards. "We equalised, then got a second and should even have got a third during that period, too.

"And our travelling fans were absolutely brilliant - we were kicking their way in the second half - so, all in all, it went really well.

"Paul Konchesky and Nigel Reo-Coker, for example, were more aggressive in their offensive play and once we equalised you could see that there was some momentum there.

"The whole team showed just how strong the spirit is to come back from a goal down and I'm so proud of my team today.

"It wasn't about being aesthetically pleasing, it was about getting three points and our pace, power and overall movement of the ball were very exciting."

Following last week's FA Cup win at Norwich City, West Ham will now go into their next match against Fulham with back-to-back victories and, hopefully, a new face or two.

"People say that I look happier now than I did, say, a year ago but I was under pressure then," concluded the Hammers' boss, who will continue to window shop in the run-up to the January 31st transfer deadline. "Looking back, I think that I dealt with it well but some of my players were only in their early 20s and everyone expected them to handle it, too.

"That pressure has largely gone now and that enables people to flower and grow in confidence.

"Nigel, Anton Ferdinand and Marlon Harewood are guys whom we've signed on four or five-year contracts now and they've had to learn and grow with me.

"The bond is strong between the younger players and myself and now my job during this present transfer window is to make a statement of intent to them.

"I'm trying to show my young players that this is a club that is going to go forward quickly and, while we're not particularly close to anything, I want the fans to know that I'm pressing as hard as I can to bring people in."