Phil Parkes: West Ham have worked hard and we shouldn’t feel any pressure this year

December can make and break a season because of the amount of games you have.

After three wins from three in November, I was feeling very positive about our game against Manchester United.

I always look forward to us playing Manchester United because I always feel confident that we will get something.

Out of all the so-called big sides, Manchester United are the one that I feel we constantly get good results against.

We always seem to raise our game against them, and for the first hour, it looked like we were on course for another victory against them but it was disappointing result in the end.

One thing that was pleasing to see was the 2,000 fans allowed back in to watch this game in the stadium. 

Going forward, it could help to make a difference to the home sides. It also gives fans something to look forward to.

But I’m not sure about if it will continue to have a positive impact on our players – we’ve been doing well without the fans.

December can make and break a season because of the amount of games you have.

The main concern for Moyes will be keeping all his squad fit at this time of year as more games puts more pressure on the players.

I hope we do enough over the next few weeks to ensure the fans are able to enjoy their Christmas with their side having a great season, especially with the year we’ve all had.

The one worry was that Antonio was out injured for the United game. He came back against Villa and it was good to see him back in the side. 

I talk about him a lot in my columns but he really is Mr Action Man for us. You know you will get 100% out of him and if you don’t, then you know he’s not fit. He just doesn’t stop.

In the early days of his career he would be shattered at the end of the game because he puts so much effort in. Now he has more stamina.

I think they will have to be careful with him and avoid throwing him back in the side too quickly. 

If he is not quite right then he will be out for even longer and that’s tough as he’s such a key player for us. They have to be senisle.

I imagine he is the kind of player that wants to play every game. He’s got that old fashioned mentality that we had in my day.

I think we enjoyed our football more than players do today. I don’t know how we would have dealt with being told we were being rotated – that’s tough on the modern player.

Looking back at our game against Villa, and we saw a bit of luck going our way for a change because we didn’t play very well. 

But I thought we deserved something against Liverpool. I think it all levels out over the course of the season.

To get a result when you are not playing well is good. The West Ham of old would have lost that game against Villa. Once Villa had equalised, that would’ve been it.

The good thing at the moment is that we seem to be able to score goals.

When you look at sides like Sheffield United, they can’t buy a goal at the moment.

We have had spells like that before but now we look very resilient. If we do get pegged back then we will go and get another goal.

The confidence in the side must be really high. To end up getting the result against Villa says that we have come quite a long way from before where we would’ve seen a goal go in and then our heads go down.

This is also the time of year that really puts into focus who is in a fight for survival. Sheffield United just don’t know what to do or where to turn at the moment.

Usually the bottom three come Christmas will be in a fight for the rest of the season and usually go down. You normally get one team that rallies and pulls themselves clear.

It’s a reflection of where we are at the moment that we are away from the danger and at the other end of the table. This really takes that pressure away of having to worry about relegation.

We can probably afford to drop the odd point and not start to panic. It’s a nice feeling. A feeling that teams like West Ham don’t get all the time

For teams like Chelsea and Liverpool, if they don’t start well then they change their expectations from winning the league to just qualifying for the Champions League.

Clubs like West Ham have a different minimum and that’s not to be relegated.

It will be nice to be in this position all through the season and hopefully towards the end of the season, we are asking ourselves if we can make a push to Europe by breaking into the top seven or eight.

One story that made headlines last month were the comments made about Sir Geoff Hurst about his dementia fears after rising number of cases among former England team-mates.

Out of the players that I played with, it’s only Stan Bowles that I know that’s had dementia but I don’t think he would’ve got it from heading the ball as he was a bit like Sir Trevor Brooking, neither were known for their heading.

Alvin Martin was always brilliant in the air. Whenever the keeper kicked long, he would be the one attacking it to head the ball. 

The balls weren’t as heavy in our day as they were for Sir Geoff Hurst, but we used to play a game in the gym where you either had to head or catch the ball and we’d be playing it for half an hour.

My head the next day would be sore to touch. Players like Alvin couldn’t understand why – they must’ve just got used to it.

So I can understand the concerns from my experience of just doing that in the gym and how it can affect your head.

What I will say about today’s footballers is that the footballs are softer and lighter – almost too light with them moving around in the air. The equipment and science has improved vastly.

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