Manager on Monday

Alan Curbishley has praised his team for the "gritty" performance which brought a deserved three points up at Ewood Park.

When asked if he must enjoy playing Blackburn Rovers in their own backyard after two back to back wins there following last season's victory as well, the West Ham United manager, who was estatic after the win, nodded but then simply wanted to talk about his players' hard-work and endeavour.

Beaming after watching Dean Ashton's second-half strike seal the win, Curbishley said: "It's always a tough place to come, make no mistake about that. If you look at Blackburn's achievements over the last couple of seasons, you will see why they are one of the top sides in the Premier League. So to come here and pick up a result is not easy, but I thought we put in a very gritty performance and we are delighted with the result.

"We contained Blackburn quite well in the first half and I always thought the first goal scored would be the decider because the game was so tight. Statistics show that Blackburn are one of the fittest sides in the Premier League, they work as hard as anybody and you have to match that, if you don't you will come unstuck. We did match that and more and it has set us up nicely for what is the start of a very big week for us."

Curbishley was full of praise for all his team who worked tirelessly all over the pitch to snub out any threat from Rovers, including goalscorer Ashton.
The striker - who is now the club's joint top scorer with Lee Bowyer - met George McCartney's cross to slam the ball in with seven minutes of coming on half-time. "If the ball is going to bounce to anyone in the box, you would like it to be him.

"He looked very sharp out there, the more the game panned out, it suited him. I had a chat with Dean the day before the game because he has been out for five weeks or so, only played one reserve match and a practice game," Curbishley said explaining why Ashton began on the bench. "We have got a lot of games coming up and do I think he can play a full 90 minutes and is fit enough to start, yes I do."

He added: "He is one of many players, including Scott Parker who played in this match, who have had to come back from injury and then try and get fit playing straight away in the first team, so there is a lot to consider when picking how we play everyone. Deano has put a lot of work in and it showed, he took his goal well."

Much was also said about the strong rearguard display, with West Ham United boasting the best defensive record outside of the top four. As well as another top-drawer display from Robert Green in goal, captain Lucas Neill and George McCartney were full of running, while there was another outstanding performance apiece from Danny Gabbidon and Matthew Upson.

"They would probably be the first to say that everyone has also been doing a lot of hard work in front of them to help achieve this. But for the most part, the back five has been the constant for us this season. And it is because people have come in and done the job that we have dug out these results.

"We have been and will continue to work hard, our trick now is to get some more results at home, most of our points have been picked up away on the road. We might have to look at playing teams down more at Upton Park to achieve more, so let's hope this starts on Wednesday [in the Carling Cup]."
Curbishley said he also felt that it was important to start the game with the same lineup that played last weekend at Chelsea.

"We went to Chelsea, done well and perhaps should have got more from that game. I decided to start with the same team, to give us a bit of a base and introduced one or two people as the match went on and it worked well. Once we scored, it was a case of are we going to get a second or are Blackburn, who were putting a bit of pressure on - sending a lot of balls in the box - going to equalise?

"In the end, neither happened, but we are more than happy with the result. We have a big week coming up, this was the start of it and we wanted to begin in the right way and we have."