Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The King Is Dead

And so it goes. From pariah to messiah to fall guy in the space of three short years.

The Past

Unlike when Glenn Roeder was dismissed, this actually feels like the end of an era rather than the end of an error. Like most West Ham fans I greeted the news with shock and a feeling of sympathy towards Pardew. If nothing else he has rescued the club from the financial excesses of the Redknapp/Roeder years and one felt he had established a framework for an extended stay in the Premiership. For that we should be grateful.

Digging a little deeper, however, it has been clear for some time that something was awry, belied on the pitch by the twin Roederian traits of always conceding the first goal whilst rarely scoring ourselves. As of today we are the Premiership's joint lowest scoring team, which would have been inconceivable just a few short months ago.

When one ignores the fuzzy afterglow of Cardiff and the 2005-06 season, concentrating solely on this seasons efforts in isolation, it is clear that Pardew had been skating on thin ice for a while. A run of 8 defeats without a goal was horrific and the current run of 5 defeats in 6 with just a solitary goal to our name was heading that way too. On purely footballing terms alone, it is hard to argue with this decision.

There are going to be a multitude of post mortems written about Pardew and I doubt that we really need any more so I will keep this as brief as possible. In fact a lot of what I was going to say is actually covered rather well by a piece in this morning's Daily Mail - wait, where are you going? Come back.

Listen, hold your nose, try not to feel like you're betraying your country and click on this link http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/football.html?in_article_id=421908&in_page_id=1779. It's really rather insightful.

The Present

All in all it would seem that the rumours of divisions in the squad had more than a grain of truth to them. I always felt that it was simply lazy journalism to suggest that the arrival of two class players like Mascherano and Tevez was an issue for Pardew. (Imagine the reaction if he hadn't agreed to take them on?). The issue was more about getting his tight knit, clique ridden team to embrace the new players, something at which he appears to have summarily failed. Instead it would seem that he has pandered to the mediocre by constantly selecting the likes of Zamora and Reo-Coker while the Argentines, Bowyer and Benayoun have struggled to get games.

The departure of Peter Grant to manage Norwich appears to have affected the equilibrium of the squad to a far greater degree than was first thought and of course, if half the scurrilous off pitch rumours are true, then it would seem that Pardew lost the respect of the dressing room right around the time Dean Ashton lost a 50-50 to hard man Shaun Wright Phillips and broke his ankle.

The Future

So who's next? All the smart money yesterday was on Claudio Ranieri, he of the mangled English and strange dress sense. His record at Chelsea was excellent whilst his record at Valencia was, well, not.

All of today's money is being put on Alan Curbishley.

Whilst he would have been a popular choice in the aftermath of the Roeder era, it remains to be seen if he would be so warmly embraced today. Few fans would view him as little more than a sideways step and a curious way for the new owners to proceed. Replacing the man who showed signs of being able to keep us in the Premiership for years with a man who has a track record of keeping teams in the Premiership for years? It doesn't exactly smack of the Champions League football that we are now apparently aiming for.

One name that has been mentioned is Paul Jewell of Wigan. As I mentioned last week, I am a fan and think he has done a great job wherever he has been. Quite why he would leave Wigan to come to us is not immediately obvious - he is under no pressure there and has a decent amount of money to spend. Whether he wants a higher profile position remains to be seen. I'd love to hear him explain his tactics to Tevez with that accent though.

Sven Goran Eriksson has ruled himself out. Exhale people, exhale.

My own preference? Guus Hiddink for what it's worth, although he's only the most sought after coach in the world. For all the likelihood of that happening I may as well say I'd like a pterodactyl for Christmas. He'll never come to West Ham

Whoever he picks it is most important that Magnusson ensures that whoever he gets has a name that scans nicely with ".............'s Claret and Blue Army" and unfortunately none of the above qualify. Thus the search must go on.........

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