Friday, May 11, 2007
West Ham's Jonathan Spector has said he is excited about returning to his old club Manchester United for 90 minutes which will decide his team's EPL future.

After a harrowing campaign on and off the field, the Hammers enter the final game of their season knowing a tie will be enough to keep them in the top division in 2007/08.

For their Illinois-born defender however, the contest has an added significance as it marks a return to the team which gave him his professional debut in August 2004.

"It is nice to go back to your old clubs," Spector told YA, "especially if it is a big one like Manchester United. I played with quite a few of them - Ronaldo, Rooney, Saha, Solskjaer. I got on well with all the players and had a great relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson. If West Ham could not win the league this season, I was pleased that United did, so Sunday will be a special game for me."

One of Sheffield United, West Ham or Wigan will fall through the trapdoor to the Championship on Sunday.

While the East Londoners face the awesome task of taking points at the champions' fortress, their mission is helped by their two rivals squaring up at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, knowing a defeat could send either team spiraling out of the Premier League.

"A draw would be enough for us but it is tough playing a team like United at Old Trafford of all places," agreed Spector. "But our destiny is in our hands at the moment. We can keep ourselves up."

His team looked dead and buried two months ago after an agonizing 4-3 home defeat by Tottenham, but Carlos Tevez's renaissance has propelled the Hammers to six wins in their last eight to pull a point clear of the drop zone with a game to play.

"It has been a great comeback for this club," confirmed Spector. "We should not have been in that position to begin with but there is no point in looking back on that now. I have always said the team believed in themselves and that is evident because without that belief this turnaround wouldn't have been possible. I am just hoping it is not too little too late."

There is still an outside chance that West Ham could be forcibly docked points and relegated after Charlton, Fulham, Sheffield United and Wigan - the so-called 'gang of four', announced they were considering legal action over the improper registration of Tevez, though this threat seems to have cooled in the past few days.

"The clubs in the relegation battle know we have a great chance of staying up," commented Spector, "so they are just trying to stay up too and get us relegated. If I were down in that position I would probably try to do the same thing, though I don't think anything is going to come of it to be honest."

West Ham will know their fate at 11.45 am EST on Sunday and Spector is under no illusions about the game's importance.

"It is vital for the club," he confirmed. "It is an extremely important game and it is going to be tough. We all know that, but you want to test yourself and those are the kind of games you want to play in. In those pressure situations you learn a lot about a player."

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