Belfast Telegraph

Steve Lomas says old pals can dent Manchester United title assault

Former West Ham skipper Steve Lomas is backing West Ham United to pull off a sensational double tomorrow.

Hammers fans love beating Manchester United and in doing so this season it would mean more than most.

A home victory at Upton Park in tomorrow’s key Premier League game would not only boost their hopes of avoiding relegation, it would also throw a spanner in the works as United try to regain the title.

Former Northern Ireland captain Lomas recently returned to West Ham as reserve team manager.

The appointment will be reviewed at the end of the season — when the former Hammers skipper believes they will still be a Premier League club.

They are currently perilously close to relegation; level on points with Wolves — who are in the drop zone — with a goal difference just one better than Mick McCarthy’s side.

West Ham beat United 4-0 in the Carling Cup earlier in the season — and they have previous against the Old Trafford outfit in key league games too.

On the final day of the 1994-95 season another former Northern Ireland international, Michael Hughes, scored as West Ham held United to a 1-1 draw at Upton Park, when a win would have handed them the title. Instead Blackburn claimed the crown.

Three years earlier Kenny Brown — who later played for Portadown in the 2000 Irish Cup final — scored to give the already relegated Hammers victory over the Red Devils.

If that’s what West Ham do against Sir Alex Ferguson’s when they’ve nothing to play for, imagine what it’ll be like tomorrow, when they are currently fighting for their lives in the top flight.

“Six or seven weeks ago West Ham weren’t in the best of form and the fans would have been thinking ‘oh no’ at the prospect of Manchester United coming to Upton Park,” said Lomas.

“Now they’ll be thinking ‘bring it on; let’s have some of that’.

“It’s set up to be a fascinating game. I think there will be goals in it and obviously I hope West Ham can win it.

“Given the recent performances I think we can — there’s no reason why we can’t.

“The performance needs to be a mix of the defensive display against Tottenham and the attacking from the win over Liverpool.

“They were superb that day and the Tottenham game was a really good team performance.”

It’s results that matter much more than performances at this stage of the season though and the home crowd at Upton Park will — as usual — be ready to welcome United with a hostile atmosphere.

Lomas added: “The West Ham supporters are always up for it whenever games against Man

chester United come along.

“What a boost it would give the team if they could win this game,” said Lomas.

“Not only would it be a big three points, it would also send a message out to the other teams around the bottom of the table that West Ham are capable of taking points off anyone in the league.

“The relegation battle changes from week-to-week and while a few weeks ago there were maybe five teams in it, now there are 10 or 11 and none of them can be considered safe right now.”

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