Hammers legend Dicks: West Ham are going into the final

Former West Ham star Julian Dicks is tipping his old team to meet Arsenal in the Carling Cup Final.

WEST HAM legend Julian Dicks is backing the Hammers for a double whammy this season – a place in the Carling Cup Final and Premier League survival.

The 42-year-old played for both Birmingham City and the Hammers during his sparkling career, but there is no doubt who Dicks will be supporting when the two teams step out at St Andrews for the second leg.

“I think West Ham are going to go through and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Hammers fan,” insisted the former club captain. “I was at the first game at Upton Park and I thought they just about deserved their win.

“West Ham played really well in the first half, but Alex McLeish must have said something to his players at the break because at the start of the second half they dominated and could really have scored a few.

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“But West Ham dug in and in the end got the break you sometimes need in a big semi-final.”

Dicks’ own record in League Cup semi-finals is not a happy one. He played in the 6-0 drubbing at Oldham Athletic in 1990 and was also there when Luton came to Upton Park and trounced the Hammers 3-0 the previous season.

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“I suppose you could say that I haven’t had a lot of luck in semi-finals, but there were reasons I think. At Oldham it was a plastic pitch which they played on week in, week out, while I remember against Luton I even gave away a penalty when I got Roy Wegerle round the neck,” laughed the man West Ham fans nicknamed ‘The Terminator’.

“John Lyall asked me if I had touched him and I just said, ‘no boss, I was nowhere near him!’”

West Ham have a narrow lead going into tonight’s second-leg showdown, but Dicks believes that the Hammers cannot afford to sit back.

“If it was three or four one, then it would be a different story, but I think West Ham have got to go out there and attack Birmingham, remember they need to score,” said Dicks, who is currently manager of Ryman League side Grays Athletic.

“They have some good players like Cameron Jerome up front, but I think West Ham have some good players too.”

Dicks was also quick to throw his support behind manager Avram Grant, who was expected to be sacked in favour of Martin O’Neill just a couple of weeks ago.

“I think managers get sacked too quickly these days,” said Dicks. “Look at someone like Chris Hughton, that was ridiculous because he was doing a really good job.

“I’m glad that the club have finally backed Avram and I think it will give the team some stability and confidence. That showed a bit at Everton on Saturday.

“If they can get through tonight, and I think they are favourites, then it can certainly spur them towards Premier League survival too. This is not a Mickey Mouse competition, not when you get to the semi-final and I think making the final can be a huge difference to the season.”

One man who won’t be at the semi-final is Freddie Piquionne following his sending off at Goodison Park after jumping into the crowd to celebrate.

It was a situation that Dicks described as ‘ludicrous’.

“The player shows a bit of passion and he has to go off, it is a ludicrous law,” said the defender, who certainly had problems with red cards himself, although for very different reasons.

“Football is a passionate game and you get caught up in the moment and you are certainly not thinking about the next game. West Ham will miss Piquionne because I think he is a hard-working player, but I still think they can come through.”

West Ham captain Matty Upson is also confident of a positive result in tonight’s match.

“We will have to defend well again,” said the skipper. “I’m not sure about our striking ability now with Freddie going to be suspended. We have got to keep our fingers crossed that Carlton is going to be fit.

“We will regroup, see what we have available and I’m sure the manager will put out a side that he feels will do best to win the tie.

“It’s going to be a great semi-final. An opportunity to play at Wembley which will be fantastic, so we will be doing everything we can to get through.”

For Dicks, instead of being at St Andrews, he will be stuck managing his Grays team at Waltham Forest, but the legend, who makes no secret of the fact that he is keen to return to West Ham in some sort of coaching capacity, is still convinced of what the result will be.

“I predicted 2-1 to West Ham for the first leg and I think it will be 1-1 tonight.”

That’s that then, the Hammers are on their way to Wembley – the Terminator has spoken.

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