Tony Cottee: The morale boost from the Chelsea draw will be crucial
PUBLISHED: 13:23 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:25 05 October 2010
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The most important aspect about the draw with Chelsea is that it restored some belief among fans and players alike,"" says Tony Cottee
The most important aspect about the draw with Chelsea is that it restored some belief among fans and players alike.
Manager Gianfranco Zola has been talking about how desperate he is to raise morale in the camp and a draw against the league leaders in front of your own fans and a good performance to boot, will certainly do that.
It was a fantastic result, especially as many West Ham fans before the game would have gone to Upton Park expecting us to lose the game.
I was not impressed with Chelsea I have to admit and I thought they would play a lot better, but a lot of that has to be put down to us getting amongst them and pressuring them into mistakes.
Scott Parker, Jack Collison and Mark Noble were all excellent and I am especially happy for Mark and Jack who so far this season have struggled to find their form and I believe they will go on from here and play a major part in the rest of the campaign.
We showed real desire and it will be a great relief that we won't be eating our turkey on Christmas Day depressed, because we are bottom of the league.
Don't get me wrong we are by no means out of trouble, but at the same time there is no need to panic.
We are only four points worse off now than we were at this time last year so there is no need for all the doom and gloom that I sometimes hear.
It is tight down the bottom and anyone I think up to Sunderland in 10th could get sucked in. After all they are only six points above us.
All you need is a bad run like we have had or a good one like Birmingham and your season changes, especially in what is the tightest Premier League we have seen for years, both at the top and the bottom.
I really am optimistic about our chances and it was great to see Matt Upson back in defence.
He is a quality footballer and club captain and it is so vital we hang on to players like him for the rest of the season and beyond, especially with Danny Gabbidon again facing a spell on the sidelines. With our strength in depth it would be an absolute disaster to lose anyone of Matt's quality now .
He will be vital for the Portsmouth game considering they scored two goals against Liverpool on Saturday.
I know Liverpool are poor at the moment but that was a fantastic result for Pompey.
They will come to Upton Park full of confidence in what will be a massive game for both sides.
We won 4-1 at Fratton Park around this time last year and that really gave us some momentum for the rest of the season.
We have a lot of home games against teams that are around us and if we can beat the likes of Portsmouth, Wolves and Blackburn then we will do ourselves a lot of favours in our battle to beat the drop.
It was interesting to read that Zola may use a sports psychologist to try and help the team climb out of danger.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with trying something a little bit different and if just one person sees a psychologist and they end up scoring a winning goal because of it, you won't hear too many complaints.
Successful managers like Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce have used them so I can't see them having a negative affect on the players.
When you are down the bottom and you have tried everything, you are desperate to try and instill some self-belief in the players and if a sports psycholoigist can do that, then it is something worth looking at.
Football has become a lot more competitive and money-orientated and I know players are really well paid and looked after well in the main, but it is a long old season nowadays and it must be mentally draining.
Things were a lot different when I was playing and to be honest back then I don't think psychologists were needed, mainly because the pressure on footballers is a lot higher now than it was 20 years ago.
I believe modern defenders have become really lazy when it comes to defending set pieces.
You see so often from corners when a ball is delivered into the box pulling and tugging shirts while some don't even look at the ball, just the player they are marking.
An example of this could be seen against Chelsea on Sunday.
Ricardo Carvalho completely flattened poor Guillermo Franco when a cross came in from a corner and I think the referee was the only one who did not see it.
The incident didn't even happen at the far post away from the action, it was right in front of the referee in the trajectory of the flight of the ball and it was disappointing that a spot-kick was not given.
Defenders never used to mark like this when I was playing and they were more concerned with heading the thing rather then pushing forwards out of the way.
They used to get touch tight and when the ball came into the box they would deal with it.
I can't see things changing unless referees start giving penalties and I don't see that happening much.
I was delighted the other week when I saw one given for what was a blatant tug, but sadly it seems to be the exception to the rule.
In my mind, there was no doubt about our spot-kick. It was a rash challenge from Ashley Cole and the referee got it right.
Chelsea's penalty, however, was a poor decision and it was clear that Matt Upson won the ball.
I have no idea why the linesman put his flag up and you could clearly see that the ball had deflected away due to Matt touching it.
To be fair, Danny Gabbidon blatantly handled the ball so I suppose these things even themselves out over time.
Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner