Filed: Monday, 11th December 2006
By: East Stand Martin
Today, the £100 million new owners of our club showed just how fickle they can be with the sacking of a manager that brought back pride to West Ham United Football Club.
Part of the original appeal to many West Ham fans of the Icemen was that they said that they would back our young English manager. In fact, they were effusive in their praise for him. That all ended today after just four games under the new regime and it’s left a bad taste in the mouth. It looks like the manager went from hero to zero in just two short weeks.
Let's get one thing right first. This is a knee-jerk reaction motivated by near panic that £100 million might just be under threat. It looked like Eggy was suddenly trying to explain to his money man why he had spent so much money. Pardew turned out to be the immediate fall guy.
No doubt this decision will divide West Ham fans, but at the end of the day as fans we should always assess these decisions in footballing terms.
First of all, let's all agree the last few performances have been diabolical. If we all weren't on suicide watch after the home game against Wigan then the thought of Polonium 210 as a nice post-dinner drink felt somewhat attractive after that debacle at Bolton. We were awful, but funnily enough it reminded me of that game away Reading in the Championship when we got mugged 1-3 away at their place. That was another day when we didn't have our preferred central defence. Pardew had the strength of character to bounce back from that.
Wigan wasn't great either but maybe came too soon after a performance away at Everton where most impartial observers would have said that we got the unfair rub of the green.
Call me an apologist for Pardew if you like, but you have to agree that the bloke’s been hardly operating under the best conditions. Take this nonsense with the Argentinians. This was not only a dodgy deal (that Eggy himself admits was suspect) but it totally disrupted our team.
I've heard many people singing the praises of Tevez over recent weeks -- after all he is the South American footballer of the year -- but I've got to say that I’ve not seen much evidence of a great footballer. All I see is a fish out of water and I'm yet to witness any sublime trickery approaching that of the Italian maestro Di Canio. Ask yourself this. How many times have you seen him leave a defender for dead?
Mascherano you say? Not seen enough of him to judge. What I do know is that we had a team last season that was playing as a unit. It was a team that was playing with real passion and flair. To me, it was unbalanced by a sordid deal struck between our former chairman and the Iranian Svengali who likes to own players like some kind of modern day slave trader. In some ways, it was a fitting parting gift from somebody who has hardly covered himself in glory as our chairman.
Other key factors which which did for Pardew included the very damaging loss of Ashton (who looked mustard in the pre season friendly against Panathanaikos), the worrying lack of leadership on the field by our captain Nigel Reo Coker and more recently the loss of his right-hand man Peter Grant to Norwich.
Is it too easy to find excuses for Pardew for the disappointments of this season to date? Maybe, but you either think that he has got the attributes to be a fine manager or not. For me his credentials are not in doubt. He has grown in stature since he came to Upton Park. He has a fine tactical brain. Not only do I think that he is one of the best young English managers in the game, but I also believe that he will go on to be successful elsewhere.
The case for the prosecution probably lies pretty much where it was at the same time in the year we went down. Many of us were pleading with old man Brown to take some action over Roeder at that time, but he just seemed to sit there impotent. It looked like he neither had the money to pay Roeder off nor the ability to attract a decent replacement. After all, who in their right mind would want to work for Terry Brown?
There was also that age-old current of sentimentality within the club that dictated that “we stick by our managers.” it was almost an article of faith at West Ham not to wield the knife.
Maybe those of us at that time that wanted a break with that particular tradition to try and avoid the looming disaster of relegation should accept today what the new owners have done. You could see it as a decisive move, something that Brown would never have done.
I personally find it hard to support that view. You begin to wonder whether it was never the intention of the new owners to keep Pardew on. It's been difficult today to find West Ham fans or non-West Ham fans that believe he's been given a fair crack of the whip since the takeover. Add to that the imminent return of Ashton and the opening of the transfer window, you feel that he's been very harshly treated.
The key thing is of course about the succession. Leadership changes can work if you are able to come up with a better option. The assessment must surely be as to whether the risk of keeping Pardew was greater than the risk of finding a suitable replacement that can perform very rapidly. The jury is out on that one, but it goes without saying that we need a new manager of quality and soon. It has to be a convincing choice, not some has been, but someone that can deliver quickly and operate within the fleeting opportunity that is the January transfer window.
We will know soon enough whether Eggy has panicked or made the right decision before it was too late.
At these times, it's always the media’s main priority to speculate about the successor. Clearly Alan Curbishley is right at the top of the list (an almost automatic West Ham choice you would have thought, but maybe not seen that way by our new foreign owners), but to me it seems quite wrong to focus on this in the wake of this unduly hasty sacking.
I come not to bury Alan Pardew but to praise him. I think it's important to recognize his achievements at West Ham United Football Club. I'm unlikely to bump into him in the street, but if I did I would say this:
Thank you for bringing back the pride we all have in West Ham United.
Thank you giving us the glory of an FA Cup final -- we waited 26 long years for that.
Thank you for selecting and developing new talent and bringing back an exciting, fluid passing game.
Thank you for rescuing us from the oblivion that is the Championship and those desperate trips to Burnley and other northern sh*tholes.
Thank you for that celebration after we won the play-off final -- that was one of the finest gatherings of the claret and blue in living memory.
I'm very sorry to see you go but you can leave with your head held high. You will go down in history as probably the most popular West Ham manager to have ever been sacked. That may be small consolation to you at this time, but many thousands of West Ham fans wish you every success with your future career. And for f*ck's sake get a job with Sky while you're looking for a managerial position, so that we can all listen to some decent analysis rather than the boll*cks talked by Jamie Redknapp and co.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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