Curbs staying positive despite frustration

One month into the job, Alan Curbishley is still finding the road to Premiership safety a frustratingly difficult one to navigate.

"I've been here for four weeks and seven games now and it's hard to take in all what's occurred during that time," confessed the Hammers boss, after seeing Philippe Christanval's last-gasp leveller earn Fulham a 3-3 draw and cruelly deny him a precious Upton Park victory.

"In fact, you just couldn't make up what happened out there today. We worked hard, twice got our noses in front, went down to 10 men, ran out of players and then found ourselves desperately hanging on for dear life. But what could have happened did happen in the end and that just summed up our day.

"Things are going against us at the moment but when you start putting results together it will all swing around," insisted the confident, albeit bitterly disappointed Curbs reflecting upon a yo-yo like 90 minutes during which the subsequently dismissed Bobby Zamora - one of nine players cautioned - wiped out Tomasz Radzinski's opener before Yossi Benayoun's brilliant brace twice put Hammers ahead, only for Brian McBride and Christanval to reply with equalisers.

"We may still have ended up getting a point from the draw but it tastes like a defeat to me. It's a big blow because a win could've left us seeing some light at the end of the tunnel as we try to catch the team in fourth place.

"We've still got 15 games left, though, and we've got to try and win as many of those matches as we can.

"If you look at the table you can see that a couple of good results can change things dramatically and I take great heart from what Portsmouth did last year. We're not in anything like the position that they were in, though, and it just goes to show that it can be done but we really must start to get some three-pointers on the board.

"When I first came here, I looked at our run of fixtures and saw that we had more home matches than away games and, with all due respect to our opponents, I expected to pick up more than just one point.

"After beating Manchester United and drawing over at Fulham, I really felt that we'd then get something against Portsmouth and Manchester City but we got nothing in either of those games and then we got a walloping at Reading, which meant that we needed to bounce back today.

"And I was very upset with Christanval's goal because Graham Poll was looking straight at it when Moritz Volz fouled Christian Dailly in the build up. I thought it was a foul at the time and, having now looked at the replay, it confirmed to me that it was, indeed, a foul.

"I said at half-time that we needed to get our noses in front for the first time since the Manchester United game because that would give us something to hold onto. And lo and behold, we went back out there and scored straight away.

"But after over-celebrating the goal - and I thought that Graham Poll was going to kick-off without us at one point! - we were all over the place and never got the ball back until McBride equalised. We need to be more professional in those situations.

"Overall, I couldn't fault our effort, though, and Yossi Benayoun's goals were well taken, while some of our approach play was very good, too. If we'd kept 11 men on the pitch then I'm sure we would've won but Bobby Zamora's challenge could only ever have ended with a second yellow card.

"Unfortunately, every time a set play comes into our penalty box we look to be in trouble and that's becoming a big problem for us. On the other hand, we had a lot of set pieces against Fulham, yet we didn't look remotely dangerous and that's something we've got to work on, too.

"I also need more concentrated effort to be spent on closing out games and that's why I'm desperate to get some experienced heads here so that when we find ourselves in that kind of winning position, we can hold on for those final 25 minutes.

"A win would've given us such a lift and that's why we all fell to the floor when Christanval equalised. We'd already lost Carlos Tevez, while Carlton Cole and Luis Boa Morte were both struggling and wanted to come off but we just didn't have anybody left. We also lost James Collins for the third or fourth time this season and that's happened to Danny Gabbidon and Anton Ferdinand this year, too. It was tough out there for us at the end.

"If we'd held on then it would have made a big difference ahead of our trip to Newcastle but nobody can complain about our effort, which was on a par with both the Manchester United match and the Fulham away game but I haven't forgotten the Reading game, either.

"We now need to repeat the commitment that we showed today at Newcastle next week," concluded Curbs, who is still hoping to add to his squad ahead of Saturday's stiff Tyneside test. "I've been asking to read the newspapers every morning just so that I can see where my players are supposed to be going. And I also want to know who I'm bringing in, too!

"Everything's all just speculation at the moment but having signed both Luis Boa Morte and Nigel Quashie, we're juggling a few other balls in the air and we now need a couple to come down for us."