Petro sees the positives

When Avram Grant takes his place back on the bench this evening against Sunderland, his right-hand man Zeljko Petrovic will be there by his side.

The assistant manager formed part of an effective trio with Paul Groves and Kevin Keen on Saturday to help the Hammers prise a point at Stoke City. He was delighted with the application and approach of the players in executing the manager's game plan to perfection.

"We prepared ourselves very well," said the former Yugoslavia star, who appeared at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. "We had been very busy from Monday to Friday preparing for it as we knew it would be a very tough game. Stoke is a tough place, not only for us but all the big clubs as well.

"They have a special style of football and in the set-pieces they are the most dangerous team in Europe. We played well and I saw some good things from us especially in the first half. We played one-touch football and we enjoyed seeing that on the bench.

"Normally you can't single out one player but I have to say that Scott Parker was unbelievable. He is on a high level and helped us to pass the ball well.

"All the players wanted it before the game. You could feel it and see it. The manager has supported us, he prepared us very well in advance and we saw the results."


Petrovic admitted there was some disappointment in the Britannia Stadium away dressing room after the match at not winning the game but urged the squad to take heart. He was most impressed with the competitive edge and said that was precisely what would be needed in a tricky-looking Carling Cup third-round tie this evening.

"The most important thing is you have to win the battle and then you can play football. If you just want to play football you cannot play against Stoke, you cannot beat Sunderland. Our players have to be organised and we are asking them to concentrate for 90 minutes.

"I can see the players have confidence, they want to play and enjoy putting in to action what the manager wants. We all understand each other better with every game."

Petrovic admitted he cannot wait for his first derby date with Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, and is ready for the crowd to play a massive part. "I know this is a special game. It is a big derby and the players are going to be ready for it.

"We have fantastic supporters. I was a coach before at Hamburg and it was exactly the same there - a club with a big history and big passion.

"It is very easy for players to play here at West Ham. The fans support you, the stadium is full. We just have to give 100 per cent and stick together."