Bellamy on Hammers trip

Last updated : 10 January 2003 By Martyn Elliott

"We're a young side and we're growing up together. We are getting stronger the whole time because we're all getting better as players," the now very wealthy Welshman told the Evening Chronicle.

"You still haven't seen the best of this side, but we're already a top-four outfit and we're determined to cement that status this season. We're quite happy for people to write us off. At the start of the season people were saying we were not going to get anywhere near the heights we did last season and that we were going to struggle after a poor start.

"We were down near the bottom-of-the-table and the snipers were saying we'd over-achieved and got lucky in qualifying for the Champions League. But we just got on quietly with our business. We knew we had games in hand and we knew we were a good side.

"Nobody has mentioned us this season, everyone has been looking at Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. When Everton had a good start to the season everyone was talking about them as well.

"But we've slowly risen up the table and if anything we're in a better position than we were this time last year.

"I'm not saying we will win the title, but we're in with a shout. Our main aim is to qualify for the Champions League again and we're on course to do that. We don't mind the fact people are not shouting about us the whole time, we'll just get our heads down and get on with things.

"We're fourth in the table with a game in hand. As things stand at the moment, if we win our game in hand against Bolton we will be joint-second. If people want to ignore us that's fine, because it takes the pressure off.

"You don't get a second chance in the cup and we're out of that now, but we're still going strong in the league. We're on course for Champions League qualification and that is what we have to concentrate on now."