April 24 2014 Latest news:
Tony Cottee, West Ham Columnist
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
“We would all love to see a thrilling and open game of football, but I know that I will take a boring 1-0 victory.”
The nerves are starting to build and I am beginning to get really excited about Saturday’s trip to Wembley and the play-off final.
It is going to be a very special occasion and it is so important that the players are prepared to go out there and perform.
One thing I know that Sam Allardyce is big on is preparation and I am sure that he will have the players in the best shape both physically and mentally ahead of Saturday’s game.
I know that the fans are starting to get really excited too and it is great credit to the club that they managed to sell close to 40,000 tickets with no trouble at all.
In fact, there are so many fans that weren’t able to get tickets, I think we could have sold out the whole stadium if we had to.
I think that it is a good idea for the players and staff to try and treat the game like it is just another league fixture, but that is easier said than done.
When those players arrive at Wembley and feel the buzz that the place generates and see and hear all of the fans, then it will hit them just how big an occasion it really is.
There will be huge amounts of emotion swirling around the stadium and it will be interesting to see how the players react to the occasion, but with the experienced heads of the likes of Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor in the dressing room, the younger players will be in good hands.
West Ham have been made heavy favourites for the game and it is clear to see why due to their earlier results against Blackpool during the season, but it would be wrong to write Ian Holloway’s side off.
They are a good footballing side and they have some dangerous players such as Thomas Ince and Matt Phillips who can cause damage out wide.
The Seasiders also have plenty of experience with the likes of Barry Ferguson in midfield and Kevin Phillips, who is a constant danger in the penalty box.
There is no doubting that we will need to be on our game if we are to beat Blackpool.
We would all love to see a thrilling and open game of football, but I know that I will take a boring 1-0 victory if it means that West Ham are back in the Premier League come 5pm on Saturday.
All that really matters on Saturday is the result, the performance can come second as so much is at stake.
It looks as though the game will come too soon for Jack Collison, and that is a real shame as he was just starting to find his best form.
I know that Jack will come back a stronger player though and I wish him all the best in his recovery from that shoulder injury.
In his absence, I would like to see George McCartney come in a left-back, with Taylor pushing further forward to midfield.
Having said that, Sam has plenty of options and a welcome selection headache ahead of Saturday.
I know that Sam has had the players practicing penalties all week but there is a massive difference between slotting one home at Chadwell Heath and doing it in front of 90,000 people at Wembley!
I know that I wouldn’t fancy taking a penalty in that scenario and it takes real bottle, but I am sure the players are prepared for any eventuality.
With the way we are playing and scoring freely at the moment, I think the Hammers will win 3-1 and seal a place back in the top flight next season sending the fans home happy.
Come on you Irons!
Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John