Avram revels in Stoke success

Avram Grant summed it up with his first words post-match after the 3-0 win against Stoke City brought the Hammers back to back league wins for the time since February 2010

"It has been quite a week," he said minutes after the Stoke success, which came hard on the heels of last Sunday's 3-1 defeat of Liverpool. With the club out of the bottom three and an FA Cup quarter-final against the Potters to come next Sunday week, it is not hard to feel the optimism coursing through the Boleyn Ground.

"Everyone is happy. "It is the first time in a long time that we have back to back wins in the league but we are happier that it came with good football. We are scoring lots of goals - we cannot ask more than this.

"I said to the team one month ago, we only have to think about what we need to do. Not worry about the other teams. Only when the league is done should we look at what the other teams have done. We need to focus on ourselves and that is what they are doing every time."

On Saturday, at a packed Boleyn Ground, the focus was certainly on the home side. Once Demba Ba had scrambled in his fourth goal in three games, the Hammers were off and away. Manu da Costa - one of two changes in the side, Carlton Cole being the other - underlined his aerial strength with a bullet header before Thomas Hitzlsperger smashed in a game-clinching third.

The manager dismissed suggestions that upcoming league fixtures like Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United would pose stiffer tests than Stoke. "They are tough games coming up but no game is easy in the Premier League. Stoke are a very difficult side. Our target is to be hard to beat ourselves and I am sure our next opponents will also think that we are tough opposition.

"We have always believed in ourselves. We analyse the football we played earlier in the season and, except for the Liverpool and Newcastle games, we have played well but didn't get the points we deserved. Now we are more efficient because we have players that can finish."

The presence of his four January signings - along with Hitzlsperger - has galvanised everyone but the manager was also pleased with his established spine of Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Cole. There is belief throughout the side and he traced the extra impetus back to the second-half comeback against West Bromwich Albion last month.

"I think it started off in the second half against West Brom and then Barnsley in the FA Cup. We are developing step by step and we are doing it at the right time. It is good to see us playing well and winning.

"We are playing with confidence, we have many good footballers. It is easier and the players that have come back from injury add a lot to this team. I am very pleased with the way we are passing the ball, we are creating chances. The whole back four was very good again."

While Lars Jacobsen and Gary O'Neil had done nothing wrong in being dropped, the manager explained that he had needed to match Stoke's considerable aerial threat. "When you play against a team like Stoke, you want to adapt but also keep to your own way.

"We wanted to play our football but we know their strengths from set-pieces. We didn't change the style but we changed the personnel slightly to cope."

One constant remains, though, in Parker. The Barclays player of the month was the man of the match again and battled on gamely despite needing an injection in his damaged shoulder before kick-off - as he had against Liverpool as well.

"Everyone is different. He wants to play with this and we want him to play. It is not easy for him, he had an injection before the game. He is a special guy and it would take a lot to stop him playing. He is a key player. He starts all the attacks and dictates the build-up of the game.

"He did a good job but everyone did well today and did their job. It was a good team performance and we had a very happy dressing room.

"We have good momentum, it is good but we have to keep it going for as long as possible. The most important thing is to do the right things, when you do that you will get your rewards. Even when players have been frustrated in the past they kept going. It is a good time now to show our quality."

* Joint-Chairman David Gold has been released from hospital as part of his recovery from cholangitis - an infection of the common bile duct - and septicaemia, although he wil require surgery in the next week or two. He sent his best wishes to the team and coaching staff on Saturday, before listening to the Stoke match on the radio.