Man of the Moment 10: Marlon Harewood

Marlon Harewood has certainly experienced a roller-coaster of a time this year. Having ended last season a hero thanks to his memorable winner in the FA Cup semi-final and a 15-goal haul that led to him being named runner-up in the Hammer of the Year award, the 27-year-old striker endured a difficult start to the new campaign in August, failing to score in the opening 11 matches of the season and finding himself out of the team during the height of our depressing eight-match losing streak. However, rather than sulk or moan, the Hammers number 10 simply knuckled down to work even harder, accepted reserve team football with an admirably professional attitude, and finally got his reward when he stepped off the substitutes' bench to score the 89th minute winner against Arsenal on Sunday. We caught up with Marlon this week to reflect on an eventful season so far…

Marlon, after the difficulties of recent weeks, you must be overjoyed at netting the winner against Arsenal?
"Of course, and it's down to hard work and belief, simple as that. Obviously things hadn't been going well for us and it was frustrating, because the lads had been working hard in training and in the games, but not getting the breaks that we needed.
"That little bit of luck has turned for us in the last two games, and it turned for myself on Sunday with the goal against Arsenal, so I just hope it carries on like that now and we go on an eight-match winning run instead!"

After the success you enjoyed last season, did you sense a greater expectation upon your shoulders at the start of the new campaign?
"Yes, but I had expectations for myself, too, and I've still got them now. I wanted to be firing from the word go this season but, for whatever reason, it just didn't happen for me.
"I didn't lose any confidence, though, because I knew that I was working as hard as I could, and I've always believed that if you keep doing that, your rewards will come in the end."

You put yourself forward to play for the reserves against Aston Villa recently - was that purely an attempt to rediscover your goalscoring touch?

"Not particularly, it was just an opportunity to get a game under my belt. It hadn't been happening for me in the Premiership, and I was given the opportunity to start a game for the reserves, which I was happy to take.
"I scored a couple of goals in the game and, if that helped me to find a bit of form then it was worthwhile, but we actually lost the match 3-2, so at the time I wasn't very happy!
"All I want to do is play football and win matches for West Ham United, and that's why I went a bit mad with my celebration after getting the winner against Arsenal - I'd waited so long for that moment, and it meant a lot to me."

Have you changed any of your preparation or methods before matches in the last few weeks?
"No, I haven't done anything differently, and I've tried not to think about things too much. I'm a bad loser, and obviously I was going home upset when we were on that losing run, but I knew the only solution was to keep working hard.
"I know I keep saying it, but it really is true. As a squad, we kept doing the same things in training that had brought us all that success last season, because we knew that eventually it would provide the same rewards it did then.
"It was tough, but these things happen in football. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard - the top players in the country - have had their problems with form this season, but you just have to pick yourself up and eventually it will come good."

Much has been said in the press about the potential takeover surrounding West Ham United at the moment - did it annoy you that the losing run was blamed on that?
"In some ways, but we didn't really pay much attention to it. The takeover has never been an issue for us. Again, that is just part and parcel of football now. When things are not going well on the pitch, the media will use whatever they can to create some unrest among the players and the supporters.
"People said the possible takeover was to blame for us losing, but it's still ongoing and now we're winning, so that argument doesn't really stand up."

Have you noticed the confidence among the squad increase since the win over Arsenal?
"We had the confidence before - it hasn't just arrived because of the wins against Blackburn and Arsenal. As a squad, we knew that we were all together and working hard, and I honestly believe that we just needed that bit of luck to get things going again.
"We got a bit of a lucky break with the second goal against Blackburn, and then the same against Arsenal, when Matty managed to come out of that tackle with the ball just before the goal.
"We know we are not going to get that luck every week, but having come through a tough time and picked up two excellent wins, the confidence is high again because we know that our hard work was all worth it, and we do still have the quality to beat the very best teams in the Premiership."