Grant confident of greater success

Peter Grant insists that Hammers will prove that they have what it takes to build on the success of the past 12 months and go on to achieve greater things in the future.

After a ninth place finish in the Premiership, the narrowest of defeats in the FA Cup final and qualification for the UEFA, expectation levels surrounding Alan Pardew's men will rise to a new level ahead of the new 2006-07 campaign, but our Assistant Manager believes that the players will respond to the challenge and bounce back from that heartbreaking defeat against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.

"There have been so many emotions since the final but, unfortunately, the one feeling we haven't had is a winning one," he says. "We'll always be saying 'what might have been' but that still doesn't take away from the fact that the players deserve an awful lot of credit, not only for their display in the cup final, but also for the way they have performed all season.

"The way they have represented West Ham United this year - on the pitch, off the pitch, on the training field - has been first class. We have a working environment here that is second to none.

"People talk about spirit, and say that Liverpool's spirit probably dragged them through in the FA Cup final, but I think it's our spirit that has got us to the position we are in now. The players have proved they can hold their own in the Premiership and there will be more expectation surrounding them next season.

"What they've got to do now is go and have a great rest, maintain their bodies and general fitness, ready to come back in July and do it all over again - because that is the sign of a top team.

"Hopefully, the cup final has whetted their appetite for that sort of occasion and they will be determined to enjoy more of it next season. They will need to raise the bar again, and that is the kind of mentality we are trying to build here.

"I played for a club - Celtic - where winning the Championship was the only acceptable achievement. And you were only champions for four weeks - after that it was all about doing it again the following season. So for us it should now be about looking forward and focusing on new ambitions.

"There is still a feeling of disappointment after the cup final, but the hope is that we can turn it into a positive. By putting on that kind of performance in front of a global audience, and with the fact that we have European football here next season, we will be a very attractive proposition for potential new players and can hopefully continue to progress in the right direction.

"It's been a wonderful season, and a lot of effort has gone into pushing the club back up to where it should be. Hopefully we've put some smiles on faces throughout the year, and hopefully they will still be there next season. We want this feel-good factor to be a long-term situation and we will only get that by working even harder next year."