Tony Cottee: Injuries are no excuse - West Ham were not good enough

WEST HAM have to put Monday s defeat to Spurs in perspective. While it wasn t a particularly good performance, you have to consider the team s influential absentees – Carlton Cole and Mark Noble.

WEST HAM have to put Monday's defeat to Spurs in perspective.

While it wasn't a particularly good performance, you have to consider the team's influential absentees - Carlton Cole and Mark Noble.

To not have them out there was a big blow and to then lose Scott Parker and Herita Ilunga so early in the game didn't help things either.

We've got four big players in our team - Rob Green, Matt Upson, Parker and Cole - so to have two of the four missing over the next few weeks is going to be a big test.

Parker has been in fantastic form of late - our best player by miles. He's another big loss, I just hope his injury isn't too serious.

He's fearless and gives us that bit of security in front of the back four. If he maintains his form he could be a contender for the World Cup squad.

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However, our injury problems should not be used as an excuse. The players out there were good enough to produce a better display than they did.

Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe were bang in form and we couldn't cope with them. Lennon, especially, was a constant threat and we struggled to contain him. Defoe's finish was sensational and I don't really think you can blame Rob Green.

I have always been a huge fan of Jermain and hopefully he'll score England some goals at the World Cup.

It was the wrong time to be facing players in such a rich vein of form - it really didn't help our cause.

Looking at the fixtures, it was a big boost to get four points from the two home games against Portsmouth and Chelsea.

Realistically, I don't think there were too many West Ham fans who expected to go to White Hart Lane and win. I was hoping we could nick a draw, but we didn't.

We've got a lot of home games against our rivals coming up in the new year and they're going to be crucial. These games will determine whether we stay in the division or get relegated to the Championship.

We've got away games against the likes of Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool still to come, but they're not going to be the key to us staying up.

On Sunday we've got Arsenal in the FA Cup and, with the way the injuries are going, we might have no choice but to play a weakened team.

I know it's a competition Gianfranco Zola likes to take seriously. I'm sure he'll show it respect and put out his strongest team.

But, having said that, the game against Wolves the following Sunday is going to be more important in the grand scale of things.

If there are slight injury concerns over the likes of Parker, I'm sure he'll rest them and give the youngsters a chance to shine. I'm sure Arsenal will field a lot of their kids.

It's a game the fans will look forward to and I'm hopeful the team will give a good account of themselves.

I WOULDN'T say 2009 has been a year to forget, because at the start there was some good football played and we finished in ninth position.

That was a fantastic achievement, considering our problems off the field. But this season, so far, has been one to forget.

There have been a lot of problems at the club on and off the field. Pretty much every negative thing that could have happened away from the pitch, has happened.

Everyone associated with the club will be glad to see the back of 2009 and hope that 2010 is a much more prosperous year.

Things need to settle down off the field and the team needs to perform on it, otherwise it could be a very disappointing end to the season.

However, if we can reproduce the form of last season then we will have nothing to worry about.

Looking back on the decade - it's been a typical chapter in the club's history.

At times we've threatened to push on, especially during Alan Pardew's reign - winning promotion to the Premier League (2004-05), reaching the FA Cup Final (2005-06) and playing in Europe (2006-07).

But, as with West Ham, it's good and then it's bad, and at the moment we're in the middle of a tough period.

Relegation in 2003 was an especially low point. I personally would love to see the club stabilise in 2010 and then hopefully we can push on for the rest of the next decade.

It's an important 10 years for the club because we really need to get some stability. We really need to push on and get the club playing regular European football.

Tony Cottee was talking to Ben Welch