Tony Cottee: “The draw will give West Ham a boost”

It was a much-improved performance against Stoke on Saturday and I feel the draw will give the side a confidence boost they desperately needed.

I know it wasn’t a victory, but it was a well-deserved point against a tough side who are good at home and the longer you are pointless at the bottom, the more the pressure increases on everyone at the club.

Every time you pick up a paper you hear about the clubs worst ever start to the season and how the manager is under the cosh, so reading and hearing about it all the time will no doubt have an effect and to battle for a draw at Stoke should have a positive effect on morale.

Last week in this column I spoke of how it was important that we stand up and be counted at the Britannia and it was great to the side battle and show great application throughout the 90 minutes.

We were excellent in the first half and took a deserved lead through Scott Parker, who once again was magnificent, but that is nothing new, which in itself is particularly impressive.

It’s one thing putting five or 10 good games together but he has been superb for the last couple of season and the fact that his performances have not dropped for all that time is a testament to how good he is.

Absent boss Avram Grant changed the formation playing Victor Obinna, Freddie Piquionne and Carlton Cole as a three up front and it was great to see us play with intent and cause the opposition problems.

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The change in system worked well, with all three putting in good performances and Piquionne was extremely unlucky not to score with his belting effort that smacked the bar.

It was just as an encouraging performance at the other end. Matthew Upson dominated Kenwyne Jones throughout the match and the skipper was superb in the air.

Manuel Da Costa was given a chance alongside him at the back and was just as solid as he has been throughout his Hammers career, while his aerial ability was important at both ends of the pitch. His performance means it will be a struggle for Tal Ben Haim to get back into the side after he missed the game for religious reasons.

Danny Gabbidon fitted in nicely at left back, with Lars Jacobsen again looking solid on the other side.

I have said before how vital it is that we have a settled back four and hopefully those who played on Saturday will have a run of games together and build up their understanding.

To read Tony Cottee’s Spurs preview see this Thursday’s East London Advertiser