Tony Cottee: “West Ham can’t let the gap get any wider”

Hammers will be in trouble if they left the gap get to seven or eight points

I like to be positive but the truth is that three points from Birmingham, West Brom and Blackpool is an extremely disappointing return.

West Ham are now five points adrift from those above us and although of course there is still a lot of football yet to be played, if we allow the gap to open up to six or seven points, the alarm bells will surely start ringing.

Before these games I set the club a target of seven points and of course to come up so far short is far from ideal.

What is frustrating is that for long periods of those games we have played well and I don’t believe the poor results are down to bad form and probably more to do with bad luck.

Decisions have not gone our way at crucial times, which is frustrating and the old saying of ‘it evens itself out over the season’ is pretty hard to swallow right now.

Performances are not the biggest issue at the moment but results are and we need to string a few wins together to improve confidence and most importantly, our league position.

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West Ham have been in worse positions over the past few years and recovered, so there is no need yet to panic. You only have to look back to The Hammers seem to play better against sides who we are expected to not do so well against, with pressure used as an excuse for not winning against so-called lesser teams.

I don’t buy it for one second. It’s those type of games where players need to stand up and be counted.

I don’t go along with the attitude that it’s the crowd being edgy which can put players off and it’s there job to gee the players up.

Players of course respond to fans, but it works the other way and when their team is at the bottom and in trouble what is sure to bring the support to life is passion, skill and great goals.

Scott Parker is someone who has done just that over the past few years. He scored a cracker against Wigan last season which brought the stadium to life and did the same last week against West Brom with his tremendous effort.

Football is all about pressure from top to bottom, which is why the game is so great and as top level professionals they should be able to handle it without a problem.

It was great to see Zavon Hines back on the pitch and playing half an hour for the reserves against Aston Villa on Monday.

It was a huge blow to lose him when he picked up a knee injury last season and it great to see him edging closer to a return to the first team.

I saw him score a hat-trick for the reserves last season, I think against Birmingham showing what a fantastic finisher he is.

The club need a natural goalscorer and he is someone who could fit that description.

He’s a great prospect and it is up to the club he is nurtured in the right way, played at the right time and ensure not too much pressure is put on his shoulders.

The last thing he needs is for comparisons. Let Zavon Hines be Zavon Hines. I had it when I broke into the first team and was compared to Jimmy Greaves, it’s the kind of pressure you could do without.

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