TC hails strong start

West Ham United great Tony Cottee has hailed the strong start the Hammers have made to the 2012/13 season.

The popular striker, who helped the Hammers to finish a club-record high of third in the league in 1986, has been impressed with his club's record of three wins in four matches in all competitions so far.

Cottee, who hailed the recent signings of Andy Carroll and Yossi Benayoun, believes the club is united behind the Board and manager Sam Allardyce and is in a fine position to enjoy a productive and successful season in the Barclays Premier League.

Cottee spoke exclusively to on a recent vist to Chadwell Heath to catch up with assistant manager, friend and former Everton team-mate Neil McDonald.

West Ham United sit seventh in the table and are through to the Capital One Cup third round so, all in all, do you think we have made a decent start to the new season?

TC - "Yes. The computer was kind to us for our opening eight or nine games so it put a lot more importance on us getting a good start. We got an excellent three points against Aston Villa, but were disappointed to lose at Swansea in the manner that we did by making a couple of mistakes. Great credit to the team because it would have been very easy, after losing our first away game, to find it difficult coming back home but the way played against Fulham was fantastic. We made a team which had started with a 5-0 home win look a very average team. Six points out of nine is a fantastic start. I think football has always been about winning in different ways. It has always been about playing with different styles and there is no right or wrong way. You do what you are good at. At times, I thought we played some really good football and there was some good passing and moving and we mixed it up really well. I think that's what we've got to do and if we do, we will be a very potent team, particularly at home with the crowd behind us. I think that will stand us in stead for a good season."

The recent signing of Andy Carroll was a real statement of intent from the Board and the manager, wasn't it?

TC - "I think it's great that we've got Andy Carroll at the club because I'm a big fan. I've always said that you have to provide him with the service because if you get the right service into him, he will look a world-beater. I thought the service into Andy was really good. Everyone kept saying to me about Andy Carroll and I said 'I don't know if we can afford him' so great credit to the Board for getting him here on the deal that we did. I think he'll fit in perfectly to what we're trying to achieve at the club. Yossi Benayoun is a great signing, as well, which gives us another option and real creativity. Those are really good signings."

I presume you would have liked to have played up front with Andy Carroll yourself?

TC - "I'd have loved to have played alongside Andy Carroll! The one player who I do regret never having played alongside was Duncan Ferguson at Everton, who I missed by three months. They are similar players in terms of what they bring to the game and have an aura and presence about them. Would I have loved to have played alongside Andy? Of course I would."

As a forward, does his mere presence on the pitch distract other defenders and create space and opportunities for the other players to benefit from?

TC - "I think that is the thing - he is such a handful. Whereas maybe a player of my stature would only draw one defender's attention, Andy draws two or sometimes three people to him and that can only benefit people like Kevin Nolan and Ricardo Vaz Te. They will get more space because the attention is so much on Andy. That can only work in our favour. I think Andy is maturing as a player and there is a lot more to come from him. He has a manager in Big Sam who knows how he works and what he needs and, once he gets back from his injury, I think the fans will be really excited again."

Finally, as a West Ham United fan and for your friend Neil McDonald, you must be pleased that the club is united and seemingly on track for a positive future?

TC - "I think what the club needed was organisation and direction, certainly in terms of on the field and off the field as well. I keep saying to everyone that the signing of Kevin Nolan was a very good one because it not only helped to galvanise the dressing room but he scored so many important goals. He got another one at the weekend and that's what he brings to the team so he was a great signing. Under Macca (McDonald) and Sam, they have created a really good spirit here. It is a pleasure to come to the training ground now, so everything is moving in the right direction and hopefully we can slowly but surely carry that on."