Collins targets top-half finish for West Ham
James Collins believes West Ham can secure a top-half finish in their first season back in the Premier League following their opening-day win against Aston Villa.
The defender was outstanding in the 1-0 victory on Saturday as he made his second debut for the Hammers – against the club he left just a few weeks ago.
And after helping his new outfit to a confidence-boosting three points, the Welshman insists that West Ham can enjoy a very successful campaign with no worries about relegation.
Collins, 28, said: “If we play like we did against Villa, there’s no reason why we can’t aim for a top-10 spot.
“We’ve got some strong and quick boys in midfield, a great team spirit and a good mixture of youth and experience.
“We may not have passed the ball as much as Villa, but the fight and team spirit got us through.
“Our home form is going to be massive. And if we keep playing like that then we can have a great season.”
After leaving Cardiff City in a joint-deal with defensive team-mate Danny Gabbidon, Collins spent four years at Upon Park before making a £5m move to Aston Villa in 2009.
He enjoyed a successful three-year period in the midlands, making 109 outings for the Villans before returning to West Ham for a fee of £2.5m.
And the defender admitted it was “strange” facing his old club on his second debut for the Hammers – in which skipper Kevin Nolan bagged the first-half winner.
Collins said: “I’m not sure me knowing Villa so well helped me personally because obviously you don’t want to make a horrendous mistake against your old club.
“On the other hand, I do have an insight into their team which could have helped.
“It was strange. One minute you are playing with them and the next minute you are not. I still speak to a lot of the Villa boys on the phone because it was only two weeks ago that I left.
“But as soon as I got onto the pitch, I was just concentrating on getting three points for West Ham and playing well.”
Competition for places and various injury problems restricted Collins to just 65 appearances for the Hammers in his first spell at the club.
And the defender, who has 39 caps for Wales, insists he is a much better player than the one who left three years ago.
He added: “I’ve got a love for the club from when I was previously here.
“I left when I didn’t really want to, but I’ve come back and I’m a much better player now.”