Galey's View - Feb 22

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert view every week, exclusively on

IT was a shame to see the winning run come to an end at Bolton on Saturday but that shouldn't take away from the fact that it was a good result - I think we all would have settled for a draw before the game.
We should be slight favourites for the replay back at Upton Park, although it's not a foregone conclusion by any means. The good thing is that we will be able to face them on a decent playing surface, hopefully in front of a full house at the Boleyn.
I've got to be honest, 17,000 for an FA Cup fifth round tie is a pitiful attendance for Bolton - and that included 6,000 Hammers fans! At least we'll show them what a proper crowd is, and a special atmosphere under the lights should inspire the players.
Bolton will play their normal game, so it's going to be tough, but we certainly have nothing to fear and the hope is that they will still be in the UEFA Cup, meaning that they will have a lot of games to play in a short space of time.

THE draw for the quarter-finals has already been made of course and, while it's not worth reading too much into it until the outcome of our fifth round replay is known, you have to say that we now have a great chance of going very far in the competition.
Should we get through against Bolton, it's Villa or Manchester City, and we could face either of those sides with confidence.
If, as expected, it goes with home advantage and City get through, then I personally feel that a Manchester City v West Ham quarter-final would be the tie of the round. Two sides that are evenly matched, both play the same brand of attacking, exciting football, and both have young English managers who will enjoy pitting their wits against each other.
Everyone's talking about Chelsea against Newcastle but, in terms of entertainment and being an even match-up, I believe that would be the one to watch.
Of course, it's all hypothetical for the time being, and the only game Alan Pardew and his players will be focusing on is the Bolton replay. I've read the manager's appeal for the supporters to turn out in force on the night, and I can see where he is coming from. You only have to look back to the play-off semi-finals against Ipswich Town to realise what kind of impact a sell-out crowd in full voice at Upton Park can have on the team. If everyone approaches this game like a cup final, then we'll have an excellent chance of reaching the last eight and, after that, who knows?

SO now we're coming to what's known as the business end of the season and, looking at the situation overall, we've got it all to play for.
The encouraging sign for me is that the players still look fresh and fit, and the manager has a full squad to choose from. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself when considering how far we have come in the space of a year, but I think it's those experiences in the Championship that have stood the squad in good stead for the Premiership.
We seem to have found more consistency this season and maybe that's because it isn't such a grind in the top flight. There aren't as many games and, while the quality of the opposition is much greater and your concentration levels need to be higher, I think the players have found it easier to motivate themselves.
Now they have a real opportunity to finish the campaign on a massive high and, as long as they stay fit and focused, there is every chance they could qualify for Europe.
The games will come thick and fast in the next couple of months but, if you are in good form and winning matches, that is how you want it.
People said that playing eight games in the space of two weeks at the end of the 1985-86 season cost us the title but that was rubbish - we won them all! It was the poor start and sticky spell over Christmas that cost us, not the run at the end.
That's why this current two-week break isn't really that much of a help - when you are winning games and playing well, it's a case of 'bring 'em on'.
I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out, though. Whatever happens, it's already been a successful campaign, I'm sure the supporters realise that, and now the players have got their chance to make it a memorable one.