Pards: We must get back to what we do best

A hat-trick of defeats and a defensive injury crisis may not be the best preparation for Thursday evening's UEFA Cup first round, second leg tie against Palermo, but Alan Pardew knows just what it is going to take to topple the Serie A leaders.

"We've got to come up with a performance of the magnitude of last season's win at Arsenal or those fantastic FA Cup victories over Manchester City and Middlesbrough," admitted the Hammers boss following a disappointing return to the City of Manchester Stadium.

"We need to go out there and give an excellent account of ourselves because they're a good side. I'm hoping that our strength of character will enable the players to lift themselves and one or two can also help to inspire the others as we look to do much better on Thursday.

"The players are desperate to get their season back on track because we got ourselves off to a great start with a win over Charlton Athletic and a good draw at Watford, while we also put in a good performance at Liverpool without getting anything.

"Since Anfield, though, we just haven't been able to get ourselves going again and we need to get back to what we were about last year and show character, pace and energy," said Pards after seeing a Georgios Samaras double and Anton Ferdinand's hamstring strain ruin his day

"We've got to move the ball about faster and get up the pitch in greater numbers, too. The squad worked hard this week and while we showed some of those strengths against a strong, resilient and committed Manchester City side, they just weren't evident enough today.

"For us, the bottom line is our need to stop conceding the first goal because, at the moment, we're constantly chasing games.

"Right from the minute that this season kicked off, we haven't been able to get our noses in front and it doesn't help that we're lacking goals, too," he continued after starting with top-scorer Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood before replacing last season's strike-partners with Carlton Cole and Carlos Tevez midway through the second half.

"In terms of our forwards I felt that we needed to get back to what we do best and I wanted to use two strikers who know their role in the side.

"You also have to appreciate that Tevez is still trying to pick up the pace of the Premiership. I wanted to use him strategically as a substitute today but, unfortunately, by the time I brought him on, we were already two goals behind and it was too late for him.

"People tend to forget that Tevez and Javier Mascherano are only 22-years-old and they hadn't done any real training this season until they arrived here at West Ham.

"They're both finding the Premiership pace demanding and if you look around, even an experienced, top, top player like Andriy Shevchenko has shown that he needs time to adjust.

"It's so easy for everyone to use the two Argentinian guys as an excuse but we've got to look at ourselves both as individuals and as a team.

"A couple of my other players may also be looking around for a bit of help confidence-wise but there were still some positives to come out of today's game because I thought that Nigel Reo-Coker was back to his best while Paul Konchesky and Roy Carroll played well, too.

"We had a couple of big defensive blows today, though, and to lose Anton Ferdinand at a time when we'd got our foot on the game and quietened the crowd was crucial. I don't know when he'll be back but it's an absolute certainty that Anton will not be available for the Palermo game," continued Pards, who will be looking for the recovering James Collins or Jonathan Spector to help him with Thursday's Sicilian showdown.

"Unfortunately, we just can't get a settled back four at the moment. We've had to use Tyrone Mears, John Pantsil, Christian Dailly and Hayden Mullins at right back.

"And we just haven't been able to come off the pitch smiling and patting backs lately," he concluded before heading off to finish planning that Italian job. "Now with the Palermo and Reading games coming up, it would be good to get a couple of results to steady the ship because we need to get the feel-good factor back and regain some momentum."