Galey's View - Oct 25

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert view on recent events at Upton Park, exclusively on

"This week has obviously been a very difficult time for everyone connected with West Ham United and, as someone who played at Upton Park for 10 years, all I can say is that I know what the players are going through at the moment.

"I was involved in two relegations in the space of three years, two promotions in two years, and also part of the team that secured the Club's highest-ever league finish. The one thing that all of those experiences taught me was how big a factor confidence is among football players.

"It has always been the West Ham way to try and play football the right way and, if you do play with that entertaining, attacking style, then confidence is so important.

"For long-ball teams, it's easy to bang balls in the channels and feed off the knock-downs when things are not going well but, if you're a footballing side and - like West Ham - continue to try and play that way, the more passes you make, the worse it gets, and the confidence just goes.

"Everybody starts to look sideways or backwards instead of forwards, and players begin to second-guess themselves. Everything that previously came naturally, you start to think about and dwell on, and that is when mistakes occur.

"That seems to be one of the problems at the moment, and you can see that the players are not playing with the same freedom, confidence and belief they showed last season.

"On Tuesday night, I really thought that the early goal would provide the lift we needed. It was a cracking strike from Marlon - at first you would have thought it was the wrong decision to take it on the volley, but he caught it just right and it gave the goalkeeper no chance.

"That should have been the catalyst for the boys to get the ball down and begin to play their normal game but that turned out to be the one thing we didn't do against Chesterfield.

"The deeper we retreated, and the more we invited them to hit corners and free-kicks in, the harder it was going to be. The only way to take the sting out against teams like that is to show them why you are in the top league and pass the ball - because that is what you can do better than them.

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"It wasn't a bad pitch either, but we just didn't move the ball around quick enough in possession. I thought things improved when Teddy came on, he calmed us down and provided some genuine quality on the ball

"Bobby had a couple of good chances to put us in front late on, but then Chesterfield also had more than a few half-chances at the other end, and on reflection you would have to say that they deserved the victory.

"We now go into a massive game against Blackburn on Sunday, and it is going to be an extremely tough encounter. Everyone talks about their physical presence and organisation, but they are also a very good footballing side and are often underestimated in that area.

"Mark Hughes and Mark Bowen are two very good coaches, and they get the very best out of what they have got. As many teams have done, they will come here and try to stop us playing, in the hope of silencing the crowd early on and hitting us on the break.

"That's why it's so important that the fans don't turn on the team if things are not going entirely to plan. I think that everybody has got to realise that the manager is really doing his best, and it's now time for the players to stand up and be counted.

"In all honesty, they are letting their manager down at the moment. They are all good players, they proved that last season, and now is the time to show it.

"Reputations were built last season, but reputations don't stand up on one season only - they have to grow over five, six or seven seasons. The moment you think you have made it as a top player, and stop putting the effort in or working to your maximum - the trait that stood out for us last season - then you are no longer a top player.

"It is a game that we are certainly capable of winning, and maybe the players are going to have to be ready to turn it into a bit of a battle. It's amazing what a win can do for confidence in situations like these and hopefully Sunday will be the start of the turnaround."