Tony Cottee Column: It may not be pretty, but West Ham are on track for promotion

“I never enjoyed taking penalties as player. It takes guts to do it.”

It was great to see West Ham getting back to winning ways at the weekend, although it wasn’t the prettiest game and there weren’t many highlights to be honest.

However, as I have said before, it was all about getting the three points.

I have sounded like a broken record sometimes this season, but in the Championship, 1-0 can be a really good result.

We kept a clean sheet and secured three vital points away from home.

The only goal in the game came from the penalty spot and what a crucial taker of spot-kicks Mark Noble is proving to be.

He has now scored four out of four this season and all of them have been crucial.

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The Hammers have produced many decent penalty takers over the years, I played with Ray Stewart and Julian Dicks, but Paolo Di Canio had his moments and now Mark has taken that responsibility.

As a player, I never enjoyed taking them, I think I only ever took 10, maybe 12 in my career.

There is a huge difference between slotting a penalty in your back garden and doing it in front of 30,000 people at Upton Park, or a stand full of away fans, pulling faces at you.

It takes real guts to do it and that is what Mark is made of.

It is a huge responsibility and one that I think he is enjoying.

And it just so happened that although Southampton also won, Cardiff and Middlesbrough slipped up, which gives us a nice cushion of four points.

I don’t think that you can read too much into the league table at the moment, and I am sure that there will be many see-saw weeks between now and the end of the season.

There is always one team that comes from nowhere to challenge the top six, although I hope that West Ham will stay in the top two between now and the end of the season.

We are just behind our two points a game target, and that would see us finish with 92 points which I am pretty sure would guarantee automatic promotion, if not first place.

On the transfer front, it has been a frustrating time for Sam Allardyce, who is still looking to bring in another striker.

I can see his problem is that we are creating chances but just not taking them, and I don’t want this to cost us later on in the season.

The January transfer window is one that seems to really puzzle me.

The window is open for the whole month, yet most of the deals seem to be done on the last couple of days.

I am sure that the club are doing all they can to bring in top quality players before the end of the month.

The latest name linked with the club is Watford’s Marvin Sordell and I have seen quite a lot of him recently.

He is a good finisher, quick and strong as well, three vital components for a striker in this league

He is also young and eager and I think he would be a good signing.

This weekend, Nottingham Forest come to Upton Park and I think it is a real chance for Carlton Cole and Sam Baldock to get back to scoring ways.

Any positive result takes us top of the league, but I think we can lay down a marker with a big, big win to send the fans home happy.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John