Players take the praise

Avram Grant is already back hard at work with his West Ham United squad but has done so with the satisfaction of seeing his coaching staff step up to the plate at Stoke City.

Assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic brought all his top-level experience to bear on Saturday while coaches Paul Groves and Kevin Keen also ensured the manager's pre-match plan was put into action. Typically, though, the backroom staff themselves were quick to put the praise for a precious point on to the players.

Groves said new forward Frederic Piquionne was a tireless performer and willing runner in attack. He worked with the striker last season at Portsmouth and knows what he is capable of bringing to any team, although he also acknowledged the effort of Carlton Cole and Victor Obinna.

"Piquionne has added something different to the squad," said Groves. "He gives you different options. He has that versatility, he does have pace and is a willing runner especially in behind defences.

"Playing those three gave us a threat of legs and pace."

Not for the first time, Scott Parker was the main man - not just in terms of the goal but in his marauding runs from midfield. "It is only five games gone but he's shown good qualities," added Groves. "He was a big influence on the game.

"He's a first class individual on and off the pitch and people can't speak highly enough of him. He's scored some important goals too, including the [Carling Cup] one against Oxford that won the game. That's good for him because he gets recognition for that which he deserves."

For Keen, there was an encouraging showing from Manu da Costa, especially as it was his first league outing of the campaign. "He did very well. He is a fantastic athlete and he has a wonderful leap.

"To be fair to the lad he has been waiting for his chance and he has done exceptionally well."

The former Hammers star was impressed by the whole rearguard action, saying "the back four coped really well" in terms of the direct approach employed by Stoke from start to finish.

A different challenge awaits next week in the league, with Tottenham Hotspur heading to the Boleyn Ground, seven days before another home derby date with Fulham.

"We have got a couple of home games in the Premier League, good London derbies," added Keen. "Getting a point here is the start of the season for us and we can build on this."