Frankly speaking

Frank McAvennie knows a thing or two about scoring.

The Glasgow-born striker netted 136 league goals during a successful 15-year career with West Ham United, Celtic and St Mirren, forging an outstanding partnership with Tony Cottee during his first spell at the Boleyn Ground between 1985 and 1987. In 1985/86, McAvennie netted 26 goals as West Ham finished a club-record high of third in the old Division One - the equivalent of today's Premier League.

The former Scotland international, now 52, believes the Hammers' current crop of forwards need to emulate their prolific achievements if the club are to gain automatic promotion this season.

"It's all about confidence really, isn't it," said McAvennie, who was back in east London for Tuesday's npower Championship draw with Middlesbrough. "It's one of them when it can go badly and you can have a few games where you don't score, then you will end up scoring the unlikeliest goal and it will send you off on a run where you can't stop scoring.

"I remember when I was playing with Tony and he once went ten games without scoring and then he'd get one off a ricochet and that would get him going again.

"I'm sure it will all come together and it has to because we've reached the business end of the season and we need our strikers to be scoring goals. Here's hoping!"

McAvennie believes that, with the likes of Carlton Cole, Nicky Maynard, John Carew and Sam Baldock in the squad, West Ham should have the firepower to shoot themselves back into the top-two, providing the forwards are given the required standard of service.

If they are to do so, the Hammers legend believes they will need the support of the Boleyn Ground faithful - a group of supporters he has always enjoyed a fantastic rapport with.

"The fans were great when we were playing. Me and Tony used to have bets about who would score the best goal because we knew we were going to score. The confidence was running through us. That's the difference between then and what's happening now.

"Saying that, it's not often you have players like Alan Devonshire, Alan Dickens and Mark Ward behind you giving you a great supply. It made it easy for me and Tony to score the goals.

"People didn't want to come here when we were playing because they knew us and the crowd wouldn't give them a moment's peace from the start until the end. We've got to get that back because this is a great stadium.

"We know what they want and they can help us to achieve it. We've dropped into third now and we need to get back into the top two."

Aside from Middlesbrough's late equaliser, McAvennie thoroughly enjoyed his midweek trip to east London, where he was joined at the Boleyn by fellow Boys of 86 Cottee, Devonshire, Phil Parkes and Geoff Pike.

"It was brilliant. I've not been down for a while and I've been looking forward to it. It's great to see all the boys again, especially as they all look a bit older, except me!"

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