West Ham defender praises Sam Allardyce team spirit
18:58 12 May 2014
Returning Hammers full back Joey O’Brien was always confident that the team would avoid the drop
Dependable West Ham defender Joey O’Brien never envisaged that the Hammers would face the dreaded drop this season, despite their dice with the relegation zone at the turn of the year.
The Ireland international full back made his first start since the end of January after dislocating his shoulder in the 0-0 draw at Chelsea and though he could not prevent West Ham from crashing to defeat as Manchester City won the title, he helped keep the score respectable.
“Personally I never thought we would go down,” revealed the 28-year-old. “At times it has been hard. December and January we were in a dangerous position, but I think we went to Chelsea and that was the start of the improvement, while the spirit we had in the team was fantastic, the manager has instilled that in us.”
For O’Brien personally it has been another up and down season with injury ruling him out for over three months, but he is just happy to have played a part.
“It has been frustrating,” he admitted. “People were really down back in January, but I said that if we got the points on the board to stay up, but I had to be out for three months with a dislocated shoulder I would take that.
“If that was my little part to play in this weird universe then that is it. I don’t know how many points we are behind where we were last year, but that is with all the negative stuff around the club about the manager.
“Remember he came three years ago when we were in the Championship and you see so many other teams, like Birmingham City, getting relegated – where do you want to be?”
It has been a long way back for O’Brien this season, but for a player who was out for two years before Allardyce gave him his chance at Upton Park, he is used to being patient on the sidelines.
“The Man City game wasn’t a bad one to come back into and finish the season after three a half months of rehab,” he said.
“It is tough when you put the hours in behind the scenes. The lads are off playing the games and you are at the training ground putting in four sessions a day, nobody sees that.
“What you do in the dark, they see it in the light and there was a couple of hundred million people seeing this, so it is great.”
It was, although only a late withdrawal saw O’Brien get his chance.
“Guy Demel was sick before we travelled so couldn’t go up on the plane in case it spread around the team which would have been a bit scary,” explained O’Brien.
“I knew on Saturday I was going to start and I was delighted. I felt great out there. I have been in training for a few weeks and working really hard.
“This was a chance I didn’t expect, but if you put in the work behind the scenes, you are in a good condition to play.”
The West Ham matches are finished for the season, but O’Brien has one more match of his own in a couple of weeks time.
“I’m getting married in a couple of weeks, so hopefully she turns up,” smiled the likeable defender. “It is back home in Dublin and I am really looking forward to it, it is going to be a great day – as long as she turns up!”