James Collins put in another heroic shift at the heart of West Ham United’s defence against Southampton and is now hoping to see his side break back into the top five again.
Collins showed once again why he is rated so highly by everyone at the Club with another outstanding display as the Hammers came from behind to record a memorable 2-1 victory.
The Wales international celebrated his new two-year contract in style as he helped the Hammers record their first win since the end of October which saw them move back up to seventh in the table.
And with the return of key players such as Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll from injury, Collins sees no reason why they cannot enjoy a successful second half of the season.
Collins said: “With the draws we’ve had, we’re delighted to get the three points.
“To finish the year with a win, after a little bit of a shaky couple of weeks with the draws, it’s massive for the Club. You see the fans in the second half, as soon as we started playing football, they were right behind us.
“One win when it’s so tight is massive. I’ve said to the boys, we’re looking at the top five again now.”
Southampton’s forwards came into the game full of confidence after their Boxing Day thumping of Arsenal, and Collins admitted that West Ham had their backs against the wall in the first half of the Bank Holiday game.
Collins added: “To be honest, at half-time, I think we would have taken another draw. They’re a good side. They knocked it about lovely first half and really made us work. It’s the worst we’ve probably played all season in the first-half.
“The gaffer made that known at half-time, made a few changes, and we came out and looked a different team. We knew we had to change it and step up at half-time, and luckily the boys have done that and got the win.”
Slaven Bili?’s team-talk and tactical changes at the back clearly had a major impact, but so did the introduction of Carroll and Lanzini and Collins was quick to pay tribute to his striking team-mates.
“You see the second half, the difference it made. Maybe for a couple of weeks, we’ve been a bit tentative, we haven’t created too many chances.
“And then as soon as Andy and little Manu came on, we scored two goals and looked dangerous again.
“So they have been a big miss, but to be fair, we haven’t been losing games. The boys who’ve come in have done very well, we’ve picked up points, and now we’re getting the injured boys back.”
With other recently-sidelined players also on the comeback trail, no wonder Collins and his team-mates are looking forward with confidence to the rest of the season.