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

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

The eventual winner triumphed over Yolo, hipster and photobomb.

Read more

One male suspect has also died, with Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers hailed for helping to stop the attacker reaching MPs.

Read more

Lindsay Booth said The Apprentice taught her to put more emphasis on life than business.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

TOP STORIES

Quizzes

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho go head to head (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Football managers are either deified or chastised, depending on results and they are some of the most famous faces in the country.

Read more
Roy Keane  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Roy Keane denied the world of more glorious beard action this weekend by shaving his famous chin hair off, however football is still littered with some impressive beards.

Read more
Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio features in London24's Hammers history quiz. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Test your knowledge of West Ham’s history with this fun quiz from London24.

Read more

West Ham Transfer News

Winston Reid, West Ham United

West Ham co-owner David Gold is expecting key man Winston Reid to sign a new contract at Upton Park shortly.

Read more
Marcelo Brozovic in action for Dinamo Zagreb (Photo by Damir Sencar/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

Check out our Sunday round-up of the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more
Ron Vlaar. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Catch up with the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more
Celtic's Virgil van Dijk (Photo by Samuel Kubani/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

Catch up with the latest London transfer news and gossip from around the web.

Read more