Galey's View - Aug 24

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale returns for the new Premiership campaign with his expert view every week, exclusively on

"We may be only two games gone, but the lads have made a very impressive start and, although it's too early to read anything into the league table, you'd much rather be third from top than third from bottom at any stage of the season.
"I thought it was a very good performance on Saturday. Charlton scored against the run of play with the penalty, but that was really the only notable effort on goal they had all afternoon.

"Obviously the sending off helped us, but we had been on top prior to that anyway, and were by far the better side throughout. Personally, I think Charlton are going to have a tough season, and it was a game that you'd mark down for three points, so to get them was very satisfying.

"Once again, the boys came from behind to win, as they did on a number of occasions last season, and that mentality is clearly a big factor in how this team play. The boys have confidence and belief in themselves, and the quick tempo we play at home means that we are always going to create chances and be in the game.

"A lot of that is to do with the crowd - they were fantastic again on Saturday, and they are responding to the way Alan sets his team up. A few years ago, we might have gone 1-0 down and they'd be thinking that was it, but that's not the case any longer.

"It was also nice to see Lee Bowyer grab the headlines with a superb performance against his old club. It's fair to say that Lee disappointed during his first spell at the Club, and I'm sure he knew that he would have to make a fairly immediate impact this time around. He did just that on Saturday and, although his preferred position is in the centre of midfield, I think he will have a lot of success playing that Steven-Gerrard type role on the right hand side.

"On Tuesday night against Watford, he was asked to play a different role, as part of a central midfield three, but unfortunately we didn't quite manage to get the ball to Lee, Hayden or Nigel enough I thought. We tended to go a bit more direct, which suited their big, strong defenders.

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"It was always going to be a tough one on Tuesday, though. Watford were fired up for their first home game of the season, their fans were in a bit of a frenzy, and they play that quick, direct style, like the Wimbledon of old. All in all, I thought we handled that side of it very well, the only disappointment was that we didn't really get our own game going.

"Only time will tell if it was a good point or not but, taking into account how fired up Watford were, then I would say it was definitely a point gained. Ten or 15 games in, when they have been beaten a few times, I think it would be a different game, but Alan probably got it just about right this time.

"However, if it was a bad time to play Watford on Tuesday, then it's probably a good time to play Liverpool on Saturday. Obviously the FA Cup final is still fresh in people's minds, but I don't think that will play a part in the game itself. The Liverpool fans will give us a good reception, and then they'll be singing songs about how they won the cup - they're only nice to teams they have beaten!

"Of more significance is the fact that Liverpool are carrying a few injuries at the moment, with Carragher and Riise both out, and Sissoko having suffered an injury in their European game on Tuesday night - when they had a long and tiring trip to Kiev.

"They are still a good team - a very good team in fact - but not as great as some people say, and I personally believe that it is a very good time to play them. We haven't got a good record at Anfield, and that may have led to a bit of a mental block in recent years, but the run has got to end one day, and Alan will know that his team have a chance.

"I'm sure he will revert to a 4-4-2 again and give it a real go. We will get the chance to play football and keep the ball against Liverpool, so I'm expecting Yossi to come back in and hopefully play a key role. We missed him getting on the ball at Watford, and that factor is going to be key to our chances of taking something from the game on Saturday."