Captain's Blog: Christmas cheer

Lucas Neill begins this week's column with reflections on the defeat by Everton before the morale-boost of the players' Christmas get-together. There is special praise for Robert Green, Freddie Ljungberg and James Collins for their fancy-dress efforts - with all concerned looking forward to Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough

Last weekend's result was hard to take and, although the scoreline read 2-0, it could have been very different had we taken the three good chances we created for ourselves in the first half but that sums up the quality in the Premier League - if you don't finish your chances you get punished.

Everton scored at a crucial time in the game and then made it very difficult for us sitting back and protecting their lead. It was the kind of performance we are used to executing away from home. We are all disappointed with the style we played in the second half and have worked hard this week to not take the easy option and go long.

This week sees us in familiar territory with the bare bones of the squad to pick from. As a result the game against Middlesbrough this weekend will be a massive scalp if we come away with the three points considering our circumstances, not that those of us playing will not be giving our all as we always do.

To counteract a disappointing week for results and to lift spirits for those hurting from injury and defeats we organised a day out for the whole squad with the emphasis on light-hearted fun and teamwork. The boys went the whole way with their sport-themed costumes and the turnout was at a maximum. Greenie, Freddie and Ginge just shaded everyone for best dressed but every time you caught a glimpse of somebody it brought a smile to your face!

The day started as normal with training before everyone headed down to Canary Wharf for some paintballing, we them moved on to the appropriately named Sports Café Bar where we fitted right in and sat round sharing laughs and stories. The whole day was a huge success and now we look to take our good spirits and unity into the rest of the Christmas period.

Thank you in advance to everybody making the long trip to Middlesbrough to support us this weekend. We appreciate the huge sacrifice, not only because of the distance but also because of the time of the year.

From all the players and staff here at the training ground, we would like to wish everyone associated with West Ham and in particular the supporters a very safe and merry Christmas!

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Lucas Neill