John Carew believes West Ham must learn to cope with being favourites to win the Npower Championship if they are to achieve promotion this season.

The Hammers invested heavily during the summer to give themselves the best possible chance of returning to the Barclays Premier League under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce.

Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor both arrived at Upton Park for significant fees, while Allardyce added the likes of Carew and Papa Bouba Diop to his ranks on free transfers.

This, says Carew, means the Irons will be expected to lift the league title at the end of the campaign which, in turn, makes the east London club a prized scalp for other teams in the division.

"In the Championship, we are almost like Manchester United are in the Premier League," said the Norwegian striker.

"Everybody wants to get points off us and they will probably raise their levels slightly and, instead of playing at 100 per cent, they are playing at 110 per cent almost and better than their level.

"It's always a big challenge when you are the clear favourites and probably the best team in the league.


"I think the throughout whole season, when teams meet us they tend to raise their game. It's something we have to cope with."

Carew netted his first strike for the Hammers on Saturday as Allardyce's side twice fought back from a goal down to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace.

The result at Selhurst Park means West Ham currently occupy fourth spot in the league, while they remain unbeaten away from home.

And Carew expects the Boleyn Ground club will continue to get stronger as the season progresses.

"It's a long season and I'm sure we'll just get better and better," he added.

"The players are getting fit and the new players are getting playing time. Papa Bouba Diop also had a great game, so the new ones are starting to settle in as well."

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