Manager on Monday

Alan Curbishley is looking for his team to add attacking guile to their "fantastic" defensive strength to help West Ham United do even better in the final 12 games of the season.

As was shown yet again in Saturday's 1-0 win at Fulham, the rearguard held firm and provided the platform for victory that maintained the charge for Europe. With Julien Faubert and match-winner Nolberto Solano getting vital minutes  and the likes of Bobby Zamora and Scott Parker getting closer to first-team football, there is hope for even more forward momentum in future.

"We have got the potential," said the manager. "We have got a strong base at the moment and I am hoping the attacking stuff will come through. It is not for the want of trying - in training that is all we do." Curbishley added that "no one is stopping them playing expansive football" and that was illustrated by the names who have been giving their all to keep the club in sight of the leading teams.

"We have got players like [Freddie] Ljungberg, [Luis] Boa Morte, [Mark] Noble - you can't tell me they are defensive and we have [Carlton] Cole as well. I have got two full-backs who like to get forward. It is just the way it is at the moment. People take for granted what they have done so far. I always hear lots of things about teams needing a goalscorer, which is fine, but you have got to stop letting them in as well.

"We have managed to do that because our defensive record is fantastic. We are just outside the top four for our defensive record. We need a little bit more. We have got players that can give us that. Some of them are injured and some of the players that are playing now can give us that. We will keep working at it."

As has been demonstrated in recent weeks, Curbishley said all top-flight sides were capable of giving anyone a game. "The opposition have got a bit to do with it. No game in the Premier League is easy. You may think that just by looking at the table but you find teams down the bottom give everyone a game. There are no gimmies in the Premier League and you have to go and earn the three points or whatever you are going to take. You have got to give the opposition a little bit of credit."

Yet again Curbishley was able to cope with a changing squad with Lee Bowyer and Matthew Etherington missing out on training in the week and Faubert also having to tread carefully. The emphasis though was rightly on those who were available and who, from Robert Green onwards, pulled together to get the result at Craven Cottage. He said: "I can't praise them enough. We take it for granted a little bit what they have done when you see other teams in a lot of trouble.

"Week in, week out, they have dug in and done fantastically well. The back five is the only constant. It is probably what has got us to where we are that we look very strong defensively. When some teams do manage to break us down, one of them pulls us out of it. You can't forget that Greeny had a one-on-one with Jimmy Bullard and came and did it. It could have been a totally different result if that had gone in."

With victory secured, Curbishley will focus his players this week on the challenge of facing Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the space of eight days. "We know we have got a tough week coming up," he said. "We are going to be put to the test but so far this season we have raised our game against the big four so we will see what happens."