Positive outlook for McCartney

George McCartney is looking on the bright side as West Ham United prepare to welcome Manchester United from a lofty tenth position in the league table.

There was understandable disappointment after the 1-1 draw with ten-man Reading on Saturday, especially after losing the lead given by Nolberto Solano's fine goal. However, the result still made it four points from two games, and was enough to elevate Alan Curbishley's side on to 26 from 18 fixtures - above Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United in the standings. The club also have a game in hand on the latter.

"If you look at the players we have had out injured, we have picked up some really good results this season and we are ninth in the table," McCartney told WHUTV. "Comparing it to last year, it is a far better season. It is not all bad."

That is not to say that the ever-present No3 is resting on his laurels, and he sees no reason why the club cannot, like last season, get something from the visit of the champions this Saturday and the New Year's Day trip to their title rivals Arsenal. McCartney said: "When you are sitting ninth or tenth in the league you want to keep pushing for as many points you can to try to get into those European places.

"It is going to be very tough. They are first and second in the league and they have got great players playing well for them but we have got to believe. The lads in the dressing room and the team that goes out on the day will give it their best shot . In football, in any given day, any team can win and we will take hope from that. Taking Man Utd first, we will try and give the supporters something to cheer about."

That last point was in reference to the fact West Ham United have performed superbly on their travels this season but have yet to replicate that form at the Boleyn Ground, with the Reading draw another case perhaps of two points dropped in east London. "I wish I could put my finger on why we don't seem to be able to do it at home," the Northern Irish international added.

"Away from home, we obviously counterattack teams, break them down and get our goals that way. At home it is harder to do that because the away team will sit in and it is tough to break them down. But we have had plenty of chances to win the game and we haven't taken them.

"It was a real blow to concede in the second half and finish 1-1. Sometimes it is harder to play against ten men. At the start of the second half they were maybe the better team for the first ten or 15 minutes. Then they have got their goal and sat back. We had plenty of chances to break them down. At times we have chosen the wrong option, and we didn't get that second goal to kill them off. But we have got a point and we have got to move on to Man United now."

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