Thursday, December 14, 2006


Alan Curbishley Accepts To Rescue Hammers

Alan Curbishley was Wednesday handed the job of saving West Ham from relegation -- a task which starts in daunting fashion with the visit of Premiership leaders Manchester United this weekend.

Six months after ending his 15-year relationship with Charlton, Curbishley returned to management as the successor to Alan Pardew at the club where he began his playing career three decades ago.

Pardew was sacked on Monday after presiding over a run of five defeats in six matches which has left the club languishing in the relegation zone.

Announcing the appointment, West Ham's Icelandic chairman, Eggert Magnusson, described Curbishley as a "manager with a proven track record and a real love for this club.

"He did a fantastic job at Charlton, and I know how highly regarded he is throughout the football world."

Curbishley will link up again with two of his assistants from his time at Charlton -- former West Ham goalkeeper Mervyn Day, who will fill the same role at Upton Park, and Keith Peacock, who is already part of the backroom staff at the club.

Curbishley, who was brought up close to the ground, said he hoped to have a greater impact as a manager than he managed in five years as a player.

"If you had said to me when I was a 16-year-old joining as an apprentice that one day I would be back as the manager, I would have thought it was impossible," he said.
"I'm deeply, deeply delighted and looking forward to the challenge.

"I never really fulfilled my potential here as a player and I would like to think I'll do a little bit better as a manager."

Curbishley went on to make it clear that, while his first task is avoiding the drop, he would regard himself as a failure if that was the limit of his achievement.

"With the fan base it has, this club has to be at the opposite end of the table, although first we have got to get out of the position we are in and make sure we can look forward to the summer."

Magnusson is the public face of the Icelandic consortium which took control of West Ham earlier this month at a cost of 85 million pounds.

Having invested so heavily, the new owners were alarmed at the spectre of relegation, which would mean West Ham missing out on the significant increase in television revenues which is due to kick in for Premiership clubs next season.

Curbishley was quickly identified as the best available candidate to ensure survival on the strength of his record at Charlton, where he succeeded in transforming one of London's smaller clubs into an established Premiership force.

The 49-year-old quit the Valley at the end of last season, a decision that was widely interpreted as being linked to his frustration at not having been seriously considered for the vacancy as England manager.

Charlton's subsequent slump in form has served to enhance Curbishley's reputation while he has been out of the game and he had no hesitation in responding positively to Magnusson's approach. "It was just something that clicked straight away."

One of Curbishley's first tasks will be to take a decision on the future of Argentinian pair duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, whose arrival is widely credited with having undermined Pardew's authority at West Ham and contributed to the loss of form that led to his sacking.

There is also uncertainty over the future of unsettled club captain Nigel Reo-Coker, although Curbishley insisted that every player would be starting with a clean sheet under his management.

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