Tony Cottee Column: West Ham can go to Cardiff with no fear

10:30 03 May 2012

Carlton Cole is congratulated by Kevin Nolan after scoring the 2nd goal for West Ham - West Ham United vs Hull City, npower Championship at Upton Park, West Ham - 28/04/12 - MANDATORY CREDIT: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO - Self billing applies where appropriate - 0845 094 6026 - contact@tgsphoto.co.uk - NO UNPAID USE..

Carlton Cole is congratulated by Kevin Nolan after scoring the 2nd goal for West Ham - West Ham United vs Hull City, npower Championship at Upton Park, West Ham - 28/04/12 - MANDATORY CREDIT: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO - Self billing applies where appropriate - 0845 094 6026 - contact@tgsphoto.co.uk - NO UNPAID USE..

Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League

“It’s time to forget all the ifs, buts and maybes and look forward to two exciting play-off games.”

Make no mistake about it, West Ham have two massive games coming up tonight (Thursday) and again on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Hammers are just two games away from a possible date at Wembley – something I have been in favour of from the very start of the season.

It was a difficult situation for the team on Saturday and once the news about Southampton scoring filtered through to the players, the game went a bit dead.

However, it was good to see Carlton Cole scoring and he looked like a real threat all afternoon.

He has now scored five goals in as many games and it is a great time for the big man to hit some form and I think it was the right decision to bring him off on Saturday and keep him wrapped up in cotton wool before the play-offs.

I was at Monday night’s awards dinner and I was on a table with Sam Allardyce and Neil McDonald and they said that it was hard for the players to push on at half time knowing that they wouldn’t finish in the top two.

However, I have to say congratulations to Reading and Southampton whose consistency has seen them automatically promoted.

For now, we have to focus on the two tough games against Cardiff.

We go to Wales with fond memories having only played the Bluebirds in March, when we put in a professional performance to run out 2-0 winners, and that will be fresh in both sets of players’ minds.

West Ham need a good, strong performance so that we can take the advantage into the home leg next Monday.

For me, I think that we need to approach it like any other away league game, as we haven’t exactly done bad on the road this season have we?

I have been involved in two-leg ties myself over the years and you can’t get carried away and focus on the second game before you’ve done your job in the first.

All focus must be on tonight’s game and not what could happen next Monday.

The Hammers need to be professional, and we can go to Cardiff with no fear.

Malky Mackay’s men do have some good players, like Peter Whittingham, who has scored lots of goals from midfield, and they have had a fantastic season, reaching the Carling Cup final and then going on an unbeaten run to get a play-off place.

Allardyce has a selection headache with the vast majority of his squad available and it will be a welcome problem for him over two games which will define West Ham’s season.

I am sure that the atmosphere under the lights in Cardiff will be fantastic, and the Hammers cannot let the occasion get to them as we can’t afford to let anyone lose their head.

It will be a tight affair, but I believe the Hammers have enough to win 2-1 and take the pressure off ourselves ahead of the home leg.

I have to say that I am delighted for Mark Noble being named Hammer of the Year. He has been runner-up a few times and I think that he thoroughly deserves the accolade.

Alongside Tomkins, he has been the outstanding candidate for the award and it is great to see it go to a homegrown player.

I was also pleased to see George McCartney rewarded for his hard work over the season.

Playing left-back isn’t the most glamorous of positions, but to get the Players’ Player of the Year shows that you are appreciated and it says a lot about what your fellow professionals think about you.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

Live Blog Transfer Window Live July 25

 

Latest Stories

The most sureal moment at the Commonwealth Opening Ceremony was the sight of some giant dancing Tunnocks tea cakes (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Did you watch the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony last night? It made us misty-eyed for London 2012, when the whole world was watching our city, so we decided to compare Glasgow 2014 to Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony. Be prepared for a blast from the past!

Read more
7 minutes ago
The Eid al-Fitr party in Trafalgar Square promises to be fun, fantastic, and free! (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Check out our five-minute guide to celebrating the end of Ramadan in London.

Read more
The Met has been accused of spying on the family of Jean Charles de Menezes (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Police spied on the family of Jean Charles de Menezes after the Brazilian was shot dead by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber in July 2005, it has been claimed.

Read more

Quizzes

Guess the manager quiz. Here's a hint, it's not these four.

The managerial merry-go-round spins quickly these days so do you think you’ve got the knowledge to recognise the faces of all these football bosses?

Read more
Croatia's Daniel Prajnic, France's Paul Pogba and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo... three hair-raising World Cup stars (Picture: Archant/Getty)

The World Cup is a showcase of fantastic football... and terrible hairstyles. Try this quiz and test your knowledge of the wackiest barnets in Brazil.

Read more
World Cup countries quiz

It's about time you refreshed your brains about the countries competing in Brazil.

Read more
Which London club play their home games at this stadium...? (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Do you fancy yourself as a football ground buff? Test your stadium knowledge with this brilliant quiz.

Read more

West Ham Transfer News

Man United winger Wilfried Zaha (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha wants to impress new boss Louis van Gaal and isn’t thinking about leaving Old Trafford.

Read more
Samuel Eto'o. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It is set to be another busy day transfer-wise and so we have compiled all of this morning’s news from around the web to get us underway.

Read more
Juventus striker Carlos Tevez  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Carlos Tevez insists he never thought about following Antonio Conte out of Juventus - even if his old foe Roberto Mancini had been appointed as their new head coach.

Read more
Diego Costa. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

It has been another busy day at London24 HQ thanks to some serious transfer news consistantly breaking during the day.

Read more
Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news from London24

Check out today’s biggest stories below and scroll down to join the transfer discussion with our reporters.

Read more