Pards: We pushed Chelsea to the maximum

His side may still be searching for that elusive first away win of the season, but Alan Pardew saw enough at Stamford Bridge to suggest that it will not be too long before West Ham United finally reap some tangible success on their travels.

"We've just pushed the champions to about our maximum," insisted the Hammers' boss after seeing Geremi's inch-perfect, first-half free-kick prove the difference between the two sides, who stand 14 places apart in the Premiership.

"That was bordering on our optimum performance and, although we didn't get a result, I'm happy with my group of players. I can see that we're getting back to our levels of last year.

"When you play against champions you know that you've got to match them for pace and power and we did that today. They're a good side but we ran Chelsea pretty close and put in a performance that suggests this season isn't, perhaps, going to be as long as some people think it will be!

"I'm expecting December to be a good month for us because our last four matches have started to see us turn the corner. After the wins over Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal, we got a lot of criticism following our defeat at Middlesbrough last week, but we still reached a good level in an ugly game at The Riverside and one break then cost us dearly.

"Likewise, at Stamford Bridge, we were desperately unlucky to come in 1-0 down at half-time because the commitment of the West Ham players had hurt Chelsea," continued Pards.

"Sure, Geremi scored with a great finish and he couldn't have put his free-kick in a better place but, on the other hand, their defenders had to make four world class blocks during the game and we also put in a tremendous lot of crosses into their penalty box, which is pretty rare for a visiting team coming here. It was just a shame that nobody could get onto the end of one them.

"Our fans were brilliant, too. I thought that our performance matched their support and we all now need to take that into next week's game against Sheffield United because that's going to be a massive match for us."

And after showing some long-awaited cutting edge against Jose Mourinho's collection of superstars, that crucial encounter against the Blades could also prove equally pivotal for Carlos Tevez.

"Today, Carlos was up to full speed and he showed just why he has such a high reputation," observed Pards following his Argentinean World Cup star's sharp display. "Hopefully we'll now see that again against Sheffield United and during the weeks after that, too.

"We've been patient with him - he's had his knocks and his injuries - and he's been patient with us, too. You can talk about his quality but his work rate for a world class player was fantastic and you could see that he's now brought on board what we do here at West Ham United, which is so important.

"It's taken a while but I think that he realises what it takes to make it in the Premiership and Chelsea are a good example for him, too, because they've got world class players, who all know that they have to work really hard to stay in the team.

"Another good thing about Carlos is that he's comfortable in four positions - left, right, up front or dropping deeper. Versatility is certainly his gift and I was really buoyed by his performance."

And as he now sets about plotting the downfall Sheffield United during the week ahead, Pards also hopes that the distraction caused by all the takeover talk of recent months will soon be over, too.

"It's been well documented and I understand that there are two parties involved and the situation is that the board is looking to one of those," he concluded. "The suggestions and promises made by both groups sound very good to me and the quicker it's all resolved the better. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."