'Back to basics'

Jack Collison has told WHUTV he and his West Ham United team-mates are determined to repay manager Gianfranco Zola by beating Portsmouth on Boxing Day.

The Wales midfielder admitted that the players felt they had let Zola and first-team coaches Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen down with their recent performances in the Barclays Premier League defeats at Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers.

Having taken a positive step by drawing with leaders Chelsea on Sunday, the 21-year-old and his colleagues are eager to go one better by beating bottom side Portsmouth at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

"It was a massive result, but the bigger bonus was the performance; the way we went out there and played; the belief; the desire; it's what we really need right now. It's going to give us a lift going into our biggest game of the season with Portsmouth.

"We were very disappointed with the last two games. We felt like we should have got points out of both of them and we didn't. We came into training and everyone is working hard and digging in to improve the situation.

"Everyone is united behind the manager, and also Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen. They've been massive for us. We're all behind them and, at the end of the day, it's down to us as players. We're the ones going out on the pitch and he can only do so much for us. We feel we let him down in a couple of games and hopefully Sunday went a long way to showing we can stay in the league and we can push on now."


Collison, who has set high standards since making his debut at Arsenal on New Year's Day 2008, also conceded that he had not been at his best in the recent home defeat by Manchester United, when he was given a tough examination by France left-back Patrice Evra.

On Sunday, the youngster kept another international full-back, England's Ashley Cole, quiet, no doubt to the irritation of his wife, X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole, who was watching the action from the stands.

"Ashley Cole is a very talented player and I knew it was going to be a tough game. I was a little bit disappointed with the way I played against Manchester United and I was a bit happier on Sunday. I'm going to keep trying to improve and do what I can for the team.

"It's massive that we all work hard and get behind one another and support each other and we can improve the situation.

"We've got to go back to basics. We did that on Sunday and we've got to do the same against Portsmouth. It's a massive game for us and hopefully we can get three points and go into the New Year ready to kick on."