Lucas Neill looks back at the last outing against Manchester City before turning his attention to Liverpool. He sees no reason why the club cannot aim high for the remainder of the campaign and also has a word for two luckless team-mates.
Arguably our last match against Manchester City was our best performance of the season away from home. It was disappointing not to take all three points but it was another case of not taking the chances that we were creating as a team. However, there were plenty of positives to take out of the game. There were some excellent individual performances and it was a huge bonus to be able to give players coming back from injury some game time like Julian Faubert and Lee Bowyer. Coley capped off another fine lone striker performance with a great left-foot overhead although his celebration pointing at his right foot left a lot of the players in the team a little bit bemused!
I said before that match it was imperative we didn't lose. The reason for this is that the mentality within this squad is now gearing itself for a very high finish. We in the team all believe that a fourth-place finish is still a genuine possibility. We have all the teams around us still to play and it is vital now that we win as many games as possible but especially against the teams that are all challenging for fourth, starting this week with Liverpool.
I welcome the staff, players and fans of Liverpool to Upton Park. The last couple of seasons West Ham have done the double over a top-four team and this year we are halfway there with Man Utd. Liverpool are the only other team we can accomplish that against which is what we are aiming for. We play Liverpool at a testing time for them and, at Upton Park in a night game under the floodlights, I think we have a very good chance of beating them.
With players now coming back to training from long-term injuries, competition for places is starting to increase and as a result the level of training has intensified. The camp is in good spirits, in a confident mood and there is a real determination to finish in the European places after the disappointment of now being out of both cups.
The manager will be in an unfamiliar position soon, where he will have a near fully-fit squad to choose from for the first time this season. The only bit of negativity this week was first the news that filtered back from Vicarage Road about Calum Davenport seriously injuring his neck just as he begun a loan spell with Watford which we were all gutted to hear. Then came the devastating news that James Collins has seriously injured his knee with the reserves. Both announcements were felt by the whole squad and we wish them well on their respective roads to recovery.
Last Saturday was Australia Day and I popped into the Walkabout Bar on the Embankment to toast my fellow countrymen and was delighted to discover that West Ham have become a well supported team by Aussies abroad. Thanks to everyone I met for a great day. It was nice to hear so many stories of people expressing their joy at being able to watch West Ham live or on their telly and be proud of the fact it is an Aussie leading the team out on to the field.
Thanks as always for your fantastic support.