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Tony Cottee: Losing these two games have been a major setback

PUBLISHED: 11:37 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:23 05 October 2010

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12:  Chucho of Birmingham City tangles with Alessandro Diamanti of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and West Ham United at St Andrews Stadium on December 12, 2009 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Chucho of Birmingham City tangles with Alessandro Diamanti of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and West Ham United at St Andrews Stadium on December 12, 2009 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

2009 Getty Images

These two defeats have undoubtedly been a big setback for West Ham and the points dropped have certainly put more pressure on to the team,"" says Tony Cottee

These two defeats have undoubtedly been a big setback for West Ham and the points dropped have certainly put more pressure on to the team.

Two losses leave us second from bottom, but it is far too soon to start panicking and we did come up against a Birmingham side in really good form.

Although they clearly feel it, the defeat adds even more pressure to the boss than it does the players.

I think the strain on Gianfranco Zola showed a little bit on Saturday in his post-match interview after the game.

He was clealry agitated when he was talking about Mark Noble's sending off and it is unusual to see him criticise officials.

It's important to point out that his comments were made 20 minutes after the final whistle, when the emotion is still fresh.

The second yellow card was a poor decision, so he is right to feel aggrieved by that and a lot of people don't appreciate how much pressure you are under as a manager.

There are well over half a million West Ham fans around the world and they are relying on you to get a result to brighten up their weekend.

Gianfranco is also desperate to become a very good manager and he wants to win every game so when things don't go your way in the game you become annoyed.

It also must be frustrating for Zola to see his team not find the net, but he will be happy that at least we are creating chances right now.

If the Hammers had not managed a shot or not been able to muster any opportunities than I admit I would be worried, but we created three of four good chances and that is encouraging.

Kieron Dyer did really well to carve out that opportunity at the end and was so unlucky not to score, while it was also encouraging to see Alessandro Diamanti making an impact and at the moment he is probably our most creative player.

He deserves his chance in the first team and he looks lively, and with Carlton Cole out, we need the likes of him and Guillermo Franco to put in a lot of hard work and hopefully get us some goals.

Carlton along with Scott Parker, Rob Green and Matt Upson are the four key players in the squad and to be missing Matt and Carlton at the same time is a big blow.

They are the backbone of the team and probably play in the most important positions, so I really hope Upson will be fit for the Chelsea game.

It will be the toughest game of the season fo far, so to have him back skippering the side would be a huge boost to the players and the fans.

They are an awesome side, but I am sure the players are desperate to put on a performance, to make up for what happened in the Manchester United game.

I am not saying we will go out and win the game, but the home form must improve and it is important to put in a really good performance to improve morale as much as anything.

The fixtures have not been kind to us and we have faced all of the top-six at Upton Park this season, but this is the last of the really difficult home games and I am hopeful we can beat the teams around us when they come to the Boleyn.

This Sunday we have to get in their faces early on and not give them an easy time on the ball, while set-pieces will be key.

They conceded two goals by free kicks and one from a throw-in against Everton on Saturday and so Diamanti's delivery into the box will be really important.

Far from me to tell the coaching staff at West Ham what to do, but if I had my say there would be a lot of set-pieces being practiced at the training ground.

The defence really have to step us as well, as they will be coming up against the best strike partnership in the Premier League.

Drogba and Anelka have been awesome this season and although I want Drogba to score loads of goals as I put a bet on that he would be the top scorer this season at 11-1, although obviously I would rather he had a day off this Sunday.

Graham Poll has criticised Mark Noble in a national newspaper and described him as a ref-baiter and in my opinion that is harsh.

Mark is both a West Ham player and a fan so he is so passionate about the club and desperate that they do well.

He is not a malicious footballer and I don't believe he is a ref-baiter, he has not had the best of seasons and has been struggling with injury, so maybe that was a factor in the first yellow he got at the weekend.

He got sent off on Saturday for two bookings and so would have missed the game against Bolton last night.

Yes, the second booking was a debatable one, but to get booked for dissent is a bit silly.

I have not got a problem with players debating or arguing with referees, it is quite natural, but you have to go about in the right way and try and be calm and verbal abuse is out of order.

Mark must have said something wrong and he has paid the penalty, I just hope he learns from this.

I don't think player behaviour has got worse from when I was playing and I am the first to admit I used to have a go at officials now and again.

It is a natural frustration and you cannot stop players doing it, although logically, how many times has a referee changed his mind after giving a decision?

I can see why the respect agenda has been brought into the game because it is important for youngsters to see their professional idols acting in a responsible manner, but I'm not sure about this shaking hands business before games.

It's a battle out there and of course its fine to shake hands with opponents after, but I find it odd to do so when five minutes later you put in a crunching tackle on them.


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