Green sees positive signs
Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green believes the club's battling display against Manchester United is evidence of progress at Upton Park
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Robert Green believes West Ham can take heart from their battling display against Manchester United last Sunday despite seeing their unbeaten run ended by the champions.
United recorded their first win at Upton Park in three years to snap the Hammers' eight-match unbeaten streak as Ryan Giggs scored a superb second-half winner for the league leaders.
Despite matching their illustrious opponents for long periods, West Ham were unable to prevent United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar from securing a record 13th consecutive clean sheet.
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But Green is adamant that the Hammers can take pride from their performance, adding that the air of disappointment at failing to record a fourth successive league win at the Boleyn Ground is evidence of a new wave of optimism at the club.
He said: "We've played United and Arsenal [in the past two weeks] and we've done okay and held our own. It's a step in the right direction.
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"A few months ago people outside the dressing room would have been dreading this game, but now people are disappointed and it's a measure of how far we've come.
"Expectations have risen and none more our own. We'd liked to have continued our good form [against United] but they've got such a strong squad. They're looking so solid that it's looking a very difficult proposition for anyone to take the title off them."
Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola was also encouraged by his side's display against the champions, adding that youngsters like Mark Noble, Jack Collison and second-half substitute Savio Nsereko will have learnt from the experience.
"We've grown up a lot and improved as a team and [the United] game proved that. It was a close match but they have quality players that if you make a mistake, they punish you," Zola said.
"But my team is a young team and is growing up, improving week by week. I'm pleased with what they're doing and I'm sure we'll get to a point eventually where they will be more precise and produce more quality.
"We need to give this team time - but they're growing up very well.
"We want to improve our place in the table, we're not happy to sit there. We want to get better and better and try to win our next game and try to make it better.