Captain's Blog - 'A tremendous year'

Lucas Neill reflects on his first 12 months before looking back to the Fulham win when Dean Ashton and Anton Ferdinand scored in a 2-1 victory. He then turns his attention to the second trip to Manchester City this week after the FA Cup exit.

It is a year to the day since I signed for the club. It has been a tremendous 12 months and also a very rewarding period. There is a totally different feel to the club now. The environment round the training ground is much more relaxed. The goals and targets we are setting are a lot different to what they were a year ago. We are making the headlines for the right reasons now and it appears the ongoing circus that surrounded the club is a distant memory.

After being sidelined with a hamstring strain against Fulham, I was very proud to see the team win again at home in a game we didn't start so well in but once again showed the spirit and determination to come from behind. It was an important three points that opened up a very nice gap between the top half and the lower half of the table. It was great to see Deano on the scoresheet, strikers rely on goals for confidence and I am sure that will give him a boost that will benefit both him and the team.

Apart from the sloppy goal, I thought we defended very well as a team once again and going forward Freddie Ljungberg looked like the Freddie of old now that he has put a series of injuries behind him. It was great to see Julien Faubert finally make his West Ham debut. He is an exciting player but he is going to need time to get used to the pace of English football and we as a team need time to establish how to play to his strengths as well.

We were bitterly disappointed to be knocked out of the FA Cup against a team undefeated at home. I felt for large periods of the game we were the dominant team and very much in control. We created more chances but ultimately we were done by a sucker punch of one chance, one goal. It is a harsh lesson and it just shows the need for us to score when we are having dominant periods in games. We need to get that ruthless streak in us so that when the opposition is chasing the game, space will open up and we can finish teams off on the counterattack.

It is imperative that we do not lose this weekend in a match that we are all determined to be victorious in. A win will see us close the gap on fourth place and keep tabs on the group of teams just ahead of and of course keep us in the hunt for a European spot. We go into the game with a lot of confidence from the FA Cup performance and an attitude that seeks revenge.

I'd like to thank the strong army of fans that were present on Wednesday night and thank you in advance for no doubt the same kind of following on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully you will have a lot more to smile about on the way back down the M6!

Lucas Neill signature

Lucas Neill