Man of the Moment 12: Lucas Neill

It can be no coincidence that, since Lucas Neill recovered from injury to take his place in the team for the narrow 4-3 defeat against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur back in early March, West Ham United have won six of their last eight matches, kept four clean sheets along the way, and now stand on the brink of Premiership survival with just one game remaining. The Australian international captain has already made himself a firm favourite among Hammers fans after bringing experience, composure and leadership to Alan Curbishley's team - on and off the field - and those qualities will be vital as we aim to take at least a point from Sunday's trip to Old Trafford. We spoke exclusively to Lucas after Saturday's win over Bolton Wanderers…

Lucas, the mood among the players must be extremely positive after the fantastic victory against Bolton?

"Of course, we've given ourselves a great chance now. Six wins in eight is a fantastic run and it was a superb performance against Bolton. I thought we were on fire in the first-half and deserved to be 3-0 up - we kind of didn't want the half-time whistle to come.
"In hindsight, the goal we conceded was sloppy and we could have scored one or two more. Of course we'll take the win, but goal difference could be critical and it would have been nice to give ourselves a more comfortable ride in the last 20 minutes. That's being a bit hard on ourselves, though, and we're more than happy with how things turned out.
"All in all, it was a great day for the fans, now we can go to Old Trafford knowing that any points will guarantee certain safety and that the situation is in our hands, which is a nice position to be in with just one game to go."

How confident are you of getting result against the Champions on the final day?
"The belief among the lads now is huge. With the way results have been going, who knows what could happen? With United having an FA Cup final to look forward to the following week, it could be that we catch them on an off-day, but the form we are in is probably better than the form they are in anyway!
"Even with the game being at Old Trafford, we think we can give them a run for their money. It's important that we stay organised, don't concede early - all the usual clichés - but why can't we get a result? We've got the belief, and we've also got a bit of insurance with our position, so we can approach the game with confidence."

What do you think has been the main factor in our change of fortunes?
"It's just a case of keeping the belief until things go for you. Ten games ago, we were written off by the pundits and the media, but I certainly didn't believe it was over. We got a little bit of luck when we needed it - you look at the dubious goals at Blackburn which put us on a fantastic run - but, when you think about it, we were three minutes away from beating Tottenham here, so it could have been seven out of nine. Apart from Blackburn, we've well and truly earned the results and deserved what we've got, so it's nice to know that we've earned the right to be out of the bottom three.
"We've made a big statement in last couple of weeks with the way we have played. Whatever has gone on in the past has been put to one side and dealt with and now we look like a proper team that is playing well."

What was it that persuaded you to keep that belief?

"The quality of our team. The frustrating thing is that everyone at the Club realises how many good players we actually had here, but for some reason the ingredients weren't mixing. I came in and thought 'how are they where they are?
"To me, it was just about a little bit of structure, a bit of discipline on the field as well as off it. And the belief, the confidence, has grown with the results we have gained. Being involved in a winning team, playing in front of full stadiums, the fantastic atmosphere at Upton Park with the crowd kicking every ball - it's why I came here, because I knew there was so much potential, not only in the team but throughout the club. Now we're just starting to realise what we can achieve here."

We will take another huge following up to Old Trafford on Sunday - just how much of a part have the supporters played recently?

"They have been amazing. This run we have been on is as much for them as it is for us. I think they lost a little bit of heart at one stage and I'm so glad they stuck by us, because this is the way we can reward them. We've got them believing again, they are well and truly behind us, so why not put some icing on the cake on the final day of the season?
"We tried to thank them recently by paying for the coach travel up to Wigan, which was nowhere near enough of a thank you or reward for their support, but now we have the chance to repay them in the best way possible. It's important we secure our Premiership status this weekend so that we can all look forward to a clean slate for next year."