Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert
view every week, exclusively on whufc.com...
NO match to comment on this week, because of the two week break between games - which I'm sure Alan Pardew and his players will profit from.
Ahead of what will hopefully be a very hectic and successful finish to the season, it will have been nice for everyone to take a little rest, recharge the batteries and get ready to have a real push for the final two months.
What the players have got to realise now is that, quite simply, it's there for the taking. We're talking about 12 league games and, hopefully, four FA Cup matches. At this stage, you don't want to be worrying about tiredness or having too many fixtures - it's just about getting stuck into the games and hoping that a bit of luck is on your side when it comes to injuries or suspensions.
Thanks to their hard work and quality so far this season, the team have got themselves into a fantastic position and in with a real chance of enjoying some glory. Saturday's opponents Everton are a prime case.
They seized their opportunity last season by grabbing that fourth Champions League spot and, while they may be heading for a more realistic finish this time around, their players and supporters will never forget the year they reached the Champions League. Unfortunately, they didn't progress in the competition as they would have liked to, but it enabled them to bring a few quid into the club and, the point is, they took their chance.
Once again, that fourth spot is up for grabs again and, if you get a sniff of it, you've got to go for it. I've said before, it's important not to get too far ahead of yourselves, and the only way to approach it is to do it one game at a time, but there is nothing to stop us pushing the likes of Tottenham, Blackburn and Bolton all the way.
The players have simply got to do what they've been doing all season - go for it. You can't sit back and hope it comes to you, you've got to make it happen. Some of our young players may be expecting more success in the future, but they can't guarantee it. As an example, look at Ian Pearce, who won a Premiership title medal in his first season, and didn't win another thing for the rest of his career. For me, it happened in my final season. As a footballer, you've got to be ready to take your chance when it comes along.
WE'VE had another week of international friendlies and, from
a West Ham point of view, it was a big disappointment to see Paul
Konchesky left out of Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad to face
Uruguay at Anfield.
It seems he may now have another chance before the World Cup after Wayne Bridge suffered an injury and Ashley Cole had another setback but, personally, I can see Eriksson turning to Jamie Carragher as his stand-in left-back should either of those not make it to Germany in the summer.
I think that's unfair on Paul, who has had a terrific season for us and has probably been the most consistent English left-back in the country. I would certainly put him in front of Wayne Bridge in terms of his fitness and consistency this season.
I'm sure Paul won't have given up hope yet, and a lot will depend on how he finishes the season. If he can star in a few of the games and make the manager take notice, then he still has a great chance of nipping in there at the end.
As for other West Ham involvement in the England squad, I heard Alan Pardew pushing forward all of his four English strikers as possible contenders for that fifth striker's spot in the squad.
It would be nice to think that one of them might be in with a shout but, in all honesty, I think Sven has already played his hand there. If he does decide to take a fifth striker, it looks like Darren Bent would get the nod. Saying that, it only takes an injury or two for a couple of places to open up, and you are then looking at who is in form towards the end of the season.
For the likes of Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora and Dean Ashton, it would really only be sheer weight of goals that would get them noticed in the coming weeks, and I think it's more a case of judging them on whether they can do it again next season.
The same goes for the likes of Anton Ferdinand and Nigel Reo-Coker, and I'd include Hayden Mullins in that group, too. With a new manager coming in after the World Cup, there will a chance for all those boys to prove themselves on a level playing field with the rest of the Premiership, and if they continue to progress in the way they have done this season, I'm sure they will make that step up.