Curbs: One victory can change everything

With 13 games of the season still left to play, injury-stricken Alan Curbishley is hoping that he will finally have a change of luck as he firmly sets his sights on overtaking 17th-placed Wigan Athletic.

"The team that's fourth from bottom is the side that we've got to catch, not the one lying fifth or sixth," insisted the Hammers' boss after seeing Liverpool move within touching distance of Chelsea and leaders Manchester United following their 2-1 victory at Upton Park.

"And Watford and Charlton have got to be thinking exactly the same thing, too. Sure, we're still in the bottom three and Liverpool was always going to be a tough game but all the other sides around us will find them just as difficult to play, too.

"We've also got some big games coming up against those teams around us and they're going to end up being the deciding matches, not tonight's result.

"So far, I've been here for 10 games and I've been knocked sideways by the results and the injuries that we've had during that time. When I first came here, I just didn't envisage all the knocks that we were going to get. For example, by half-time against Watford on Saturday, we had four defenders out of action plus our new signing, Lucas Neill.

"I'm hoping that one or two of them might be back soon but, since I've been here, I haven't been able to keep the same back four together for two or three games and this just hasn't been a settled West Ham United side. I need that to change in order to give us some confidence.

"And after beating Manchester United and drawing with Fulham, we just didn't carry on picking the points up, either. We only took one point from our next three home games over Christmas and I can't hide from the fact that we've had a poor run since I've been here.

"There's been a lot to take in during those six weeks but the underlying thing is that we need to get some players back and some results on the board because I'm sure it will give everyone a boost if we can do that.

"I know that the fans are anxious, restless and very disappointed but we all feel like that, too. There's only one way that we can get ourselves out of this situation and that's to catch the team in 17th-spot.

"We're confident that we can still survive," continued the Hammers' boss, clearly taking some consolation both from his side's overall work-rate and Spanish substitute Kepa's debut strike, which sadly was not enough to wipe out a Liverpool lead created by a pair of Merseyside missiles from Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch.

"We need to start getting three points from games, though, because that's the only way that it's going to change for us.

"Tonight, they tried their hardest, had a battle and gave it their best. And Kepa's goal gave everyone a lift. Once we scored, the atmosphere changed a bit but, unfortunately for us, it all came a bit too late.

"We'd already been undone by two great strikes but they were mistakes on our part and you can't afford to do that against Liverpool. Although they had the majority of the possession in the first half, we came in at the break and felt quite comfortable that Liverpool hadn't really opened us up.

"Going back out there, we just needed to get through the first ten minutes of the second half, too, but within ten seconds it had all changed. We'd decided to play a bit deeper and that worked for us but, as soon as they scored, it changed everything. Liverpool are in such great form that they took control of the game and then when their second goal went in, I feared the worst.

"We battled away, though, and although Kepa scored, we just couldn't go on and get an equaliser. Liverpool's goals were both great finishes but we got punished for our mistakes tonight.

"From now on, it's going to be all about giving ourselves a chance to get those wins but no-one knows exactly how many points we'll need to be safe. People talk about getting to the 40-mark but it's rarely that. We'll just have to wait and see.

"One win can change everything and that could happen for us this weekend at Aston Villa."

But before Hammers head to Villa Park in search of that elusive first away victory of the season, Curbs, who has so far made five acquisitions during the current trading session, knows that he also faces one final, frenetic day of the January 2007 transfer window.

"It's frantic, it's hectic and it's always a bad time to come into a club in mid-season, especially when the window's open," he insists. "And the business always seems to hot up on the last day, too!

"We'll have to see what the final day brings because everyone will be scratching around trying to do things. Here at West Ham we've been linked with all sorts of people and some of it's been quite outrageous.

"With regard to Darren Bent, for example, Charlton Athletic made the situation quite clear from day one. He wasn't available, that's not changed and their chairman Richard Murray has said that," concluded Curbs denying reports that he had offered his old club £18million for his former striker.

"And we've made our position clear, too. We're trying to bring people in rather than let them go and that's why I'm still not too sure about Javier Mascherano's reported move to Liverpool. We'll just have to see if we do anything on the last day."