Captain's Blog - Spirit is strong

Monday's game against West Bromwich Albion may have looked disappointing from a league point of view - a team in seventh place not beating a team at the bottom, but we have got to see our third clean sheet in a row as a point gained rather than two lost.

West Brom are fighting for their lives and it was never going to be easy. Maybe with more experience firepower-wise we may have done it, but we had to do a reshuffle mid-game which didn't help and then relied towards the end on youthful exuberance rather than experience and knowledge.

It was a little disappointing as we could have gone four points clear of eighth place, but we're still two points clear of the team one place below us and we've reached that magical 40-point mark, with nine games to go.

A lot of people, if you remember at the start of the season had us down as one of the relegation candidates, and now we appear to be one of the three favourites for the UEFA Europa League. I am very proud of everyone's achievements at the club, in particular the players.

We have now in my eyes, another opportunity this weekend when we take on my old club, Blackburn Rovers, to possibly open up a bigger gap in that seventh place. We are certainly looking to go and win the game, for sure.

In the worst case scenario we will go there making sure we won't lose. But, at this stage of the season, with Blackburn fighting for points, the pressure is all on them to come out and try and win the game - that could help us.

We have certainly got a team that is set up to be solid in shape and good on the counter, so from that point of view, it could pan out in a good way for us.

We will be missing the huge influence of Carlton Cole on the pitch and a few others, but when you get thrown challenges like this, you just have to adapt to them and take them head on.

One person's bad fortune is another's opportunity - so I have no doubt that the boys who come in to play in the roles that have been made vacant will do a great job. I am quietly confident that we can get something positive out of this game.

I have played them five times since I moved here and we have won all five, so long may that continue!

It's great for Greeny and the whole team to recognise that we have had three clean sheets in the last three games and we will be looking to extend that to many more. It is nice to see that, even if we don't play well, we are not conceding goals and, last Monday, we never looked like we were going to lose the game, which is always nice.

So from that point of view, there is a lot to take from all of that into Saturday's game.

We will then have a much-needed break for this squad, giving the guys a chance to freshen up, to get over a few knocks they have and they can be straight back into contention. Those who were two or three weeks away will also hopefully be ready to go again for one last push with eight games to go. We all know that this team has it in them to do this.

It's still too early to be talking about Europe, but we have put ourselves into a great position to win four or five more matches. We have the chance, but let's go one game at a time.

But what a position it is to be in, when there has been nothing but negative press at the start of the season and now more recently again, which is something out of the players' control.

Lately, we have been getting compliments about our style of football and the performances we have been putting in, again which is nice to hear.

We are really not affected by all the negative stuff. For us the football, on the training pitch and at the stadium, they are the places that you can escape from all of that and we can just concentrate on our football, enjoy our football and try to win games.

It's a great release for us, great for us to focus our attention and we will let those who have to fight West Ham's corner against the barrage of unnecessary attention do that.

But we know, and West Ham fans know, that on the pitch, we have gone from a team that has been written off as a relegation side to a team that more often than not, plays attractive football and is now winning more than losing. We are very hard to beat with respect of most of the teams, if not all, that we come up against in the league.

All the boys, the management and everyone associated at the training ground should take a lot of credit for that, it's been like that since I have been here. Particularly this season, the spirit has been really strong and I think that could be one of the main reasons as to why this team is churning out results week in, week out, winning or at least drawing games instead of losing them more often than not.

The signs are good. We are quite thin as a squad, but who knows what the last nine games will bring? We are all excited.

A thank you to all our fans who will be travelling to the game this weekend. It's a long way to go, but it has been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years and another win could potentially open up a lovely gap going into a break with eight games to go.

Lucas Neill signature

Lucas Neill