Curbishley hails team spirit

Alan Curbishley paid tribute to the work ethic in his team as West Ham United returned to winning ways at Fulham on Saturday.

Nolberto Solano will rightly take the headlines for the winning goal that capped a superb display in the last half-an-hour of a fiercely contested London derby that seemed destined for a goalless draw. However, the manager was keen to commend his entire squad for the way they ground out the victory and moved to within four points of the teams occupying seventh and eighth place.

"I am delighted with that the team have done," he said of a 1-0 victory that means the club have 40 points. "The players have done fantastically well. They have got themselves to where they are with 12 games to go." Curbishley admitted in the week that he had asked for more going forward but as is typical in a capital contest when so much is at stake, chances were at a premium.

"We want to be expansive like everybody else. The players that have been playing have dug in all season. I have asked them to play out of position, give it their lot every week. Great credit goes to them. Perhaps it should not be taken for granted. It was a tough game which we knew it was going to be. Fulham have made a couple of changes and it has given them a bit of a lift. It was a tight game and if it was going to be settled it was going to be by one goal.

"There was not a lot of goalscoring opportunities. We had a couple of them and they did too. I think when you are down the bottom it does go against you somewhat. I am delighted with our result." The manager's satisfaction was furthered by Julien Faubert coming through an hour after his first start for the club before making way for the majestic Solano to grab hold of the game.

Elsewhere in the team, Robert Green underlined his England credentials in front of Fabio Capello with a timely stop to deny Jimmy Bullard just two minutes before the winner. "I can't forget Greeny's save when he was one on one with [Jimmy] Bullard," Curbishley claimed, before adding words of praise for Luis Boa Morte who was back in the starting eleven at his former club. "I brought Boa Morte back in to play in the hole and he done his bit."

Another to get an honourable mention was Freddie Ljungberg who "has been playing ever so well" - particularly as the manager had seen Matthew Etherington and Lee Bowyer sit out training during the week. "I had to change it around and put people out of position a little bit," he said. "Ljungberg went into three or four different positions during the game, which is not ideal but that is where we are at the moment. We are delighted with Freddie that he has got himself in fine shape."

Acknowledging as well that Mark Noble had dominated in a packed midfield, Curbishley said the 4-5-1 system he went for with Carlton Cole as the lone striker was a major factor in allowing the youngster to shine. "When you change the shape and the system like we have done, it suits certain people. When you play one down the middle, it doesn't suit the other centre-forward left out but then it might suit the three midfield players who end up playing to their strengths."