'Everyone is in it together'

George McCartney insists West Ham are still very much United, despite a difficult week that has seen the Hammers lose at Crystal Palace and Liverpool.

The defender, who returned to the starting XI for Saturday's 4-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Anfield after missing the midweek reverse in south London, admitted the squad had not played to its true potential in recent weeks.

However, the No3 said next weekend's visit of bottom club Sunderland to the Boleyn Ground will give the Hammers an opportunity to return to winning ways.

Reflecting first on Saturday's defeat on Merseyside, McCartney felt West Ham's cause had not been helped by scoring two own-goals and Simon Mignolet's outstanding save from Modibo Maiga when the game was still goalless.

Read Big Sam's reaction to Saturday's defeat at Liverpool

"I think we knew what to expect from Liverpool," said the Northern Irishman. "They had a few chances in the first half and we seemed to hold out and had a couple of chances ourselves.

"We conceded late on in the first half and early in the second half, which was disappointing. We then got ourselves back in the game and had a chance to make it two-each, but in the end Suarez put two goals in and 4-1 looks like a bit of a hiding.

"It was disappointing. We tried to bounce back from the defeat and performance against Crystal Palace, but it didn't happen. We now look forward to Sunderland next week and we have to pick ourselves up and get three points.

"They had a few chances in the first half but they were largely long-range shots. We got behind them a couple of times and put in some really good crosses and their keeper made one or two good saves.

"Throughout the course of the game, we knew they would get one or two clear-cut chances and all you can do is try to hold out and get a bit of luck. We didn't have that luck and in the end it was a comfortable result for them."

McCartney's first spell at West Ham coincided with the Hammers' amazing escape from relegation in 2006/07, when they won seven of their final nine matches to stay in the Barclays Premier League. Having experienced that, the defender knows first-hand how a squad can turn its season around.

That turn-around can start next Saturday, when McCartney's former club Sunderland visit the Boleyn Ground. The Black Cats have collected just eight points so far, but the Belfast-born player is not taking anything for granted.

That said, he knows the game represents a great opportunity for West Ham to return to winning ways.

"I think we were tailed-off and nobody gave us a chance before we won seven of our last nine games to save ourselves, but we're not thinking about relegation. We know there are plenty of games left and the squad we've got at this club and how we're capable of playing.

"The last couple of months, we have had some disappointing results but we'll pick ourselves up. The spirit around the place is still great and everyone is in it together. Like I said, we'll be looking to put in the sort of performance we did against Fulham next weekend against Sunderland and get three points at home again.

"We all know there are no easy games in this league, even though they are below us. It's going to be a difficult game, but it's about how we apply ourselves on the day and we'll be looking to play some positive football and get the win we need."

*Tickets are still available for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Sunderland. Secure your seat here now.