Captain's Blog - A good start

Last week, against Portsmouth, was probably the least dominant we have been in matches of late.

Apart from the good saves by saves by Greeny and Bellars hitting the bar, there wasn't a great deal in the game. But, as it has been well documented, it was our first clean sheet in more than 20 games and, from a defensive point of view for the team, that was really good for confidence, something great to build on.

You want to shut teams out, because you sometimes only need one chance at the other end. I think it just steadied the ship a little and although it would have been nice to win at home, in the run that we have been in, we wanted to stop the leaks and so that was a good start.

Football is a funny game, as after our game against Portsmouth, I went away with Australia to play in Bahrain. We couldn't get our game going at all, we just had to grind it out. We kept a clean sheet and low and behold, in the 93rd minute following one scrappy chance, we scored and won the match.

Bahrain probably got the feeling that we at West Ham have had for the last few weeks, of dominating games but coming away with nothing. It was certainly nice to be on the other end of that for once this week.

It was not only myself who had a good week on the international front. Several of the boys went off and came back with a winning feeling and in some cases, getting on the scoresheet themselves.

Matty Upson done really well with England, scoring and by all the reports, was man of the match. Bellars scored a really good goal in Denmark for Wales, while Ginge kept a clean sheet and Jack [Collison] played really well for them. Valon [Behrami] won and got through half a game for Switzerland and Jordan [Spence] came on against Germany for the England U-19's.

So, it has been a good week for us, but the focus is now firmly back on our trip to Sunderland tomorrow. We travel there with both teams not quite in best of form, but we are certainly confident we can get something out of this game. Sunderland have a really good manager in Roy Keane, someone I highly respect as a player.

It will be important as always, to keep the big Sunderland following quiet and stop them becoming their team's 12th man. Our job will be to keep their team quiet so this can happen and it will be our supporters who can be the loudest.

In this match of course, we will come up against some old team mates in Anton [Ferdinand] and George [McCartney]. There will of course, be some good-natured banter on the pitch. It would be nice to get some bragging rights over them. It's a case of friends before and after the match, but not during!

A thank you ahead of the match, to all our fans, who will be making the very long journey up there. We are very grateful to them and hopefully we can reward them with a good result.

At this stage of the season, we are coming into funny run of games now with the old traditional Saturday matches at 3pm going well out of the window for a few weeks. After Sunderland this week, we have two Monday games and Sunday game before we play on a Saturday again.

It is always a tough time, particularly with the games in this schedule, so it is important we take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself in these games. Everyone has complete faith in what we are trying to do and we are certain that it is going to click sooner rather than later.

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Lucas Neill