Filed: Saturday, 30th August 2003
By: Graeme Howlett
Former Hammers boss Glenn Roeder has spoken for the first time since being relieved of his managerial position last weekend.
Roeder, who was stunned to discover last Sunday afternoon that he was being dismissed from the post which he had held for just over two years gave his first public interview since to the BBC's Five Live last night.
And despite being hugely disappointed by the club's decision to part company with him Roeder gave the team his best wishes for the remainder of the season.
"I don't think anyone knew the sacking was coming and although you accept these decisions I'm dreadfully disappointed," he said.
"After my operation I wanted to return. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to have told the club that with two years contract left I'd like to do a deal and go into retirement.
"But the most important thing of all was for me to get back to training on July 1st. I had the same enthusiasm and energy for the job as I had before the operation and came back to West Ham with my batteries fully charged looking forward to the season - but that's been taken away from me.
"Still, I feel very positive for the club in terms of this season and as confident as you can be that West Ham will be successful and make a swift return to the Premiership."
Roeder's two-year stint as Hammers boss was littered with problems both on and off the pitch - consequences, many would argue of the financial state of the club when he joined.
However one of the most public problems he faced was the long-running feud with former striker Paolo Di Canio, which came to a head when Roeder hauled the Italian off four minutes into the second half of the 2-1 win at West Brom last season.
Now both are no longer at the club, how does Roeder feel towards his former captain?
"Paolo is a fantastic footballer with marvellous ability and certainly helped the team to win matches and take points when on form," he said.
"He likes to criticise all sorts of people in public - but what went on in private between us has to stay that way. All I can say is that behind closed doors he is an interesting player to deal with.
"I'll be taking an interest in how his and all my former players careers are going - and to see how Alan Curbishley handles him."
As for the public spat between the pair during the game at West Brom which effectively ended Di Canio's career at Upton Park under Roeder, he added:
"It was an easy decision that day; I felt Paolo wasn't fully fit and my decision to take him off proved to be a correct decision because we ended up wining game.
"After that Paolo went off to Italy to correct the small problem he had."
During his tenure as Hammers boss the inability to motivate his team was a charge often levelled at Roeder - a charge that he unequivocally refutes.
"Why is it that if you don't shout and scream and don't murder players and referees in public that you are perceived as not being tough or hard enough? I see managers who do that as weak as it suggests that they can't handle the pressure. I prefer to do it in private.
"It's a question of concentrating on the game. If you are jumping up and down I think you lose sight of what is happening. You can't make accurate assessments.
"You have to overcome the misconception that you can be 'too nice'. It gives me more motivation to prove them wrong."
And on suggestions that he had 'lost' the dressing room - hence one of the major reasons for his dismissal?
"As far as I am concerned that is complete rubbish," he countered. "I'm confident you can speak to nearly all the players and that wouldn't be true.
"One or two players don't feel that good towards me, those players have said things that perhaps don't show me in a good light. But 99% will be positive towards the way I worked with and managed them."
Despite all the problems he has experienced whilst in charge at West Ham, Roeder remains confident that he has what it takes to succeed in management.
"I have never born and grudges and I'm not bitter about what has happened," he said. "I'm very clear about what I want to do next and very excited about the next challenge.
"Football is my life; there's not anything else I want to do and I can't see any life outside of professional football. I have been in the game since I was 15 years of age - and I will continue to do it."
Another criticism levelled at Roeder during his stint at West Ham was that he traded poorly in the transfer market. Players such as Vladimir Labant, Laurent Courtois and - most notably - £5m signing Don Hutchison all failed to make an impact at Upton Park. Fair criticism?
"Any manager would admit he's made mistakes and I wouldn't be any different," he said. "But it's up to other people to decide what mistakes were made and up to me to challenge those people.
"You could hardly be accused of David James being a bad signing, he's England's number one goalkeeper. As for Don Hutchison, he did well in his first season until the cruciate injury. It's taken him a little bit longer to recover than he would have thought.
"On some other signings I'd be the first to admit they didn't turn out the way I wanted - but all managers make plenty of signings that didn't turn out how they want to."
During Roeder's interview it was made clear that there were certain questions with regard to his dismissal that he was unable to answer - part of the conditions of his pay-off from West Ham, which is thought to be worth around £400,000.
Yet despite the gagging order Roeder made it clear that he felt the squad he inherited from Harry Redknapp was not strong enough to survive in the Premiership - and that the sales of the 'big four' in the summer had been the final straw.
"I didn't inherit a big playing staff when I arrived a the club," he said. "The team, the year before I became manager finished on 42 points and only stayed up with two games to go.
"Four or five first-class players doesn't constitute a good team - and 11 or 12 players doesn't represent a good squad.
"It was a fantastic turnaround to finish 7th in my first season; some people say it was a fluke then say we deserved to go down last year which I feel is an amazing contradiction.
"But when you lose players of the calibre of the four that left this summer it makes your job that much more difficult.
"All four players were great servants for club. Glen Johnson played only 14 games for us and was our best player in at least 9 of those. He's a wonderful player.
"Joe Cole is a wonderful young talent improving every season. I've spoken to him recently and he feels that being at Chelsea he'll improve even more.
"Trevor Sinclair gave great service to West Ham and I wish him well. As for Freddie Kanoute, I have to say he was a much maligned striker - and unfairly so. He was the reason we won so many games at Upton Park, was fantastic to work with when playing well and with unbelievable natural ability."
Roeder also revealed that there was no love lost between him and his predecessor Harry Redknapp, who has criticised Roeder publicly during his time as Hammers boss.
"Harry is Harry; we know all about how he likes to conduct business and have to live with it,"he said. "It's not a problem for me.
"With the problems I've had this summer someone being critical is not a problem. People in the game should know better - but that's just how some people are."
Naturally talk turned to his eventual successor. Roeder feels that friend and former colleague Trevor Brooking would be the man to take over, although he recognised that the Hammers legend had already ruled himself out of the running.
"Every time Trevor takes the team up the tunnel it wins - which isn't a bad quality to have! He's very knowledgeable, a West Ham man with a great love for club and great affinity with the supporters," he said.
"There's nothing I can say about Trevor that everyone else doesn't already know. I must stress that if he changed his mind he'd get my full support - however from a distance.
"I hear there's been more than 40 applications for the job - I'm surprised there's not 100 on that list. It had to be a big list because any manager would love to have the opportunity to manage a club with West Ham's traditions.
"It's an absolutely fantastic club with terrific support and great football traditions who try to play a certain style of football. Perhaps that's more suited to certain types of coaches - but I'd definitely recommend the job to anybody.
"Everyone wants more time, some get it and some don't. I believe that had I been allowed to stay we would have won promotion back to the Premiership but obviously someone else will get that chance now - and I wish them well."
And we all wish you well too, Glenn.
Mr Moon has left the building: A message from Jeremy Nicholas [20th Sep 2013]
Roeder returns - at Millwall [25th Jun 2013]
50 years of hurt [5th Apr 2013]
Happy birthday, Sir Trevor [2nd Oct 2012]
Knives out for Allardyce [27th Mar 2012]
Newcastle's best bitter [5th Mar 2012]
Shaka: Redknapp killed Joey Cole [27th Sep 2011]
McClaren in denial [16th May 2011]
Scraping the barrel [3rd May 2011]
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