Manager on Monday

In the lead up to Saturday's sold-out visit of Barnsley, Sam Allardyce had spoken of the need for his men to quickly make up for the misery of the previous weekend's experience at Reading.

The injury and suspension-hit team that played at the Boleyn Ground did just that, grinding out a 1-0 victory that was far more significant than the scoreline suggested in front of the country's second biggest attendance of the day.

"You can't afford to lose too many of your 46 games and we wanted to put things right after two disappointing results," the manager said. "We wanted to bounce back with a victory to get back on track and we have done just that. It was a very pleasing performance with all the things that we have had thrown at us."

The result was to prove even more precious come the close of play on Sunday with leaders Southampton seeing their advantage cut to just one point after being held at Portsmouth and Middlesbrough keeping up the pressure two points behind the Hammers in third with a big win at Cardiff City.

Big Sam was rightly only concerned with what his men achieved in east London, and achieved against the odds. There were three changes from Reading in the back four alone, with 17-year-old left-back Dan Potts the most striking inclusion for his debut after Abdoulaye Faye's calf complaint saw him withdrawn after the warm-up.

Julien Faubert was deployed at right-back, George McCartney moved in to the centre and even James Tomkins had to switch from left centre-half to right centre-half. The manager went with John Carew, Frederic Piquionne and Carlton Cole in attack but the heroes were Potts, the son of club great Steve, goalscorer Papa Bouba Diop and the magnificent Robert Green.

Potts typified the 'get on with it and get a result' attitude of the day, standing up manfully to the Barnsley forward line, with Nile Ranger, Craig Davies and Ricardo Vaz Te all trying their luck out on the right wing in the hope of testing the young defender's nerve. He saw them all off.

"These lads have been scoring goals for fun for Barnsley," added Big Sam. "In the last five games they have won four and only lost one. Dan did his job defensively which was the main thing.

"I knew he had a lot of quality on the ball because he has been training with the first-team squad for a considerable time now but to show the defensive qualities as well against those players who were much bigger and stronger than him physically and cope so masterfully was pleasing for me.

"It was a great debut. His dad would have been more nervous today at a football match than he has ever been in his entire life."

While Allardyce summed up the youngster's bow as "encouraging", he admitted he should only get better especially with his father helping to guide the way.

"It could be a great find from the West Ham Academy again. We spotted it early as a senior management group and said to Tony [Carr] 'forget about him training with you, we are going to have him training with us because we think he has good potential'."

The manager will wait to see what action might be taken after he was sent to the stands by the referee.

"I wanted the victory so desperately," he said, when asked about his public show of frustration on the sidelines. It came after a strong challenge on Potts went unpunished and was quickly followed by a subsequent ignored claim for a foul on Freddie Sears.

"I haven't been as upset as that for many years. I have always been a lot calmer but I just felt that, with the circumstances we were playing under, we didn't need the major decisions to go against us that may cost us the victory we were looking for."

Rather than criticise, the manager wanted to commend and he reserved most of his reflections for some outstanding individual performances, especially as the headaches kept coming with Faubert (hamstring) and John Carew (back) limping off - meaning Henri Lansbury finished the game at right-back on his return from two months out with a knee problem.

"There were a lot of massive contributions from a squad that is being stretched to its very limit and still managed to come up with a victory.

"Rob Green was very important. It would have been a difficult situation for us to have come back [if they had equalised]. I was uncomfortable they would get one chance and when that one chance came, he pulled off a worldy for us. It was as big a contribution as Papa's goal."

As for Diop, the manager felt his improving conditioning with every week was helping him to make more of a mark and not just with his sixth-minute headed winner, his first in the claret and blue. "He did very well. He has started to get better and better and his fitness is allowing his ability to come through more and more."

It was Potts who will remain the stand-out story of a match that in the short-term will have done so much good before Boxing Day's trip to Birmingham City and in the long-term could prove to be one of the defining moments of the Hammers' season as they push for promotion

"It was a terrific day for Pottsy and his family. It is great to see a man of such young potential, a local boy who has had a massive trauma in his life with overcoming leukaemia. I am really pleased for them and all credit to him as a 17-year-old for withstanding the pressure in such an important game."