Manager on Monday

Avram Grant and his squad will have hard work high on the agenda on Monday on their first full day of a mini-training camp in Portugal .

Despite the fantastic form of late, with the Hammers making it three straight home wins with the weekend 3-0 win against Stoke City, Avram Grant is keen to not let momentum slip. The squad has headed to the Algarve in the hope a change of scenery - and some warmer weather - will give an added boost.

A further factor was that rain in recent weeks has taken its toll on Chadwell Heath while the manager also believed - as was the case a fortnight ago with an awayday go-karting and clay-pigeon shooting - in giving every opportunity for the squad to bond.  

It will be near-on a full complement as well, with every one of his 25-man squad in full training this week, plus all the youngsters bar Junior Stanislas, who is still getting over his hernia surgery. Those involved will all be pushing hard to stake their claim.

"We are going to Portugal. We have a problem with our training pitch. We are taking them to some very good pitches to train.

"Training is the main reason but we use every opportunity to be together. The players like to be together and there are good facilities.

"Maybe there will be some bonding things, in their free time they can do what they want, but the main reason is to be there and train. We will train every day. It will be good to train on normal pitches."

The squad will return to London on Wednesday and then have three full days to train for the FA Cup trip to face Stoke again on Sunday. Make no mistake, the manager is well aware of the importance of the coming 90 minutes to the Hammers' season.

Another triumph at the Britannia Stadium would mean much more than the considerable bonus of a Wembley semi-final. That said, Grant has learned much more about his team from the disappointing first half of the season. "When I speak with young coaches they ask me how you get a team in a good spirit and the right spirit?

"I reply: 'Don't look when they are winning as when they are winning everyone is a genius and everyone knows everything about everything. The real character comes when you are not in the good days'."

The manager has been impressed with the way his players have stayed true to their task. "when we were bottom of the league, we were fighting and fighting. We always wanted to find a solution and the spirit was very good.

"Of course no one was happy when we lost. but from every bad situation we became stronger and stronger. That is the reason why we now have good momentum. You cannot push a button and be good. You need to do the right things even when things are going wrong.

"I know what I want from this team and I know what I want West Ham to be in the next few years."