Tony Cottee: Home matches will be key to our survival

We had the most shots out of any team in the Premier League on Saturday and that makes the defeat at Burnley even harder to take,"" says Tony Cottee

We had the most shots out of any team in the Premier League on Saturday and that makes the defeat at Burnley even harder to take.

We created so many chances to win the game and that defeat coupled with wins for all the sides that are around us, means the loss is a disastrous result.

We were not great in the first half, but it was a marked improvement in the second half and at least we are creating opportunities, if we weren't even doing that, I would then be seriously concerned.

I have said for the past few weeks it is important that we don't lose to the teams around us and sadly that happened on Saturday against a team that had not won since October and it now means there is a lot of pressure for the remaining games of the season.

I had set us a target of seven points from these last three games against teams that are around us and to pick up two is certainly disappointing.

Carlton Cole was clealry displeased at the final whistle and I found his interview on Match Of The Day quite refreshing.

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He pulled no punches and admitted he was fed up saying the team played well, but walked away with nothing and I am sure a lot of the fans feel his frustration.

A lot of players are taught from a young age to state the obvious to the press so it was good to see him be so honest. He's right that now is the time for the team to get results and we have to start climbing the table soon.

What is key is that of the 14 games remaining, eight are at home and six are away.

The away games see us take on all of the top four plus Everton and Fulham, so it is vital that we make the most of our matches at Upton Park.

I would say that out of those eight games, we have to win five, so time is certainly starting to run out.

It is an achievable target as the only really big team we have to take on is Manchester City, and that is on the last day of the season, so hopefully by then our Premier League status would have been confirmed for next season.

It is so close down there at the moment and if Wolves had beaten Birmingham on Sunday they would have jumped five places up the table, so a small run can see us climb well clear of danger.

It is important manager Gianfranco Zola identifies his best strike partnership quickly and sticks to it. Chopping and changing the front two will not help.

Of course we all hope that they will gel immediately, but that is not always the case and with Guillermo Franco coming back soon, the club will have six or seven strikers at the club, so it is important that Zola fights the temptation to rotate.

It looks like Carlton Cole and Benni McCarthy will be the front two and at the moment I would probably agree with that and I am happy to see Ilan and Mido come off the bench and make an impact for the team, like they did on Sunday.

McCarthy has a two-and-a-half year contract on big wages and it is difficult to say, especially at his age whether he is worth it, but if he scores the goals that keep us up, you will hear few arguments from anyone connected with the club.

David Sullivan made comments in the press last week saying that a current Hammers player should retire and I don't believe things like that should be said in the papers.

There is no need to conduct West Ham business in the open and I would much rather see things kept in-house.

Traditionally, West Ham have done that well and I would hope that it continues in the future.

You have to take the feelings of the player into consideration and think about how he might feel if he read what he said.

I obviously don't mind if he wants to say it face-to-face with the player, because honesty between people in the club is obviously a good thing.

But it was the impact it will probably have on the player will not be a positive one.

They have also made comments regarding the future of Matt Upson and again, it is something that you don't need to talk about to the papers.

Matt is a huge player for the club , he is captain and I am sure he does not want to read about being sold.

The club are in the middle of a relegation battle and all his focus should be on that, as well as trying to win the World Cup for England, so discussing his future at the club will be an unwelcome distraction for him.

Both the David's, Gold and Sullivan have been very open and honest about the club and for the main that is commendbale as the fans have been calling out for honesty from the top.

However, with regard to the future of the players, for me the silent approach is the best way forward for the club.

Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner