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End of the Road

Itís five days now since I heard the news that Harry had ďresignedĒ from the West Ham hot-seat, and Iím still in a state of shock. While I happen to think that we needed a change of manager if we were to progress, I cannot believe itís actually happened. After all, in over thirty-five years of following West Ham, Iíve only known five managers, so itís a rare event indeed to see one leave.

I feel really sorry for Harry. Despite his shortcomings as a manager (minor things like tactics and motivation!), thereís no doubt that he worked his socks off for the club. With limited resources, he did much to establish us as a Premier League side, producing some entertaining football along the way - although there was some pretty awful stuff too!. Good luck to you in whatever comes along next, H.

Every day seems to bring a new line on why Harry left the club. It now seems pretty certain that there was a disagreement over the amount of money needed for new players.

If this is the case, then one has to wonder about the statements that the board have been making regarding the monies from the sale of Rio. Initially, it was said that all the money would be used for improving the squad. This pretty soon became ďmostĒ of it. Then we hear that itís £12m that can be used. Now thereís a story that Harry had all he was going to get (and had ďwasted itĒ), and would have to sell to buy. By my calculation, after the purchases of Song, Camara, Dailly and Todorov, there is still around £12m of the Rio money available, so where is it going?

We have been told all along that the ground redevelopment was being funded independently of team affairs, so the new stand canít have absorbed the money (and if you believe that, youíll believe anything!). Seems like we may have been misled again.

Whatever the reasons for Harryís demise, we now have to look to the future, and a new manager. Alan Curbishley seems to be favourite despite both he and Charlton constantly denying it. Iíd like to see Curbs given a chance, but Iím not sure he would be my number one choice. Now many would consider this a terrible thing to say, but I think that George Graham may be the man we need.

Let me explain. The problem with West Ham during the 35 years Iíve been following them is consistency, or rather the lack of it. I believe this is because we have never had anyone in charge who understands what it takes to make a side perform at or around its peak week-in, week out. This is the problem with promoting from within. A great policy if youíre the Liverpool side of the seventies and eighties, but not so good at West Ham. Graham has had plenty of the right experience both as a player and as a manager, and could instil the necessary disciplines into the club.

Such an appointment may well see the end of the likes of Di Canio, but he has only a year or two to play at the top level, and itís the long term future we have to think about now. With Lampard Jnr seemingly about to leave, (and I for one wonít be terribly sorry to see him go) itís Cole and Carrick we must concentrate on keeping. One thing is for sure, Graham would not tolerate the kind of lazy performance young Frank gives on an all-too-regular basis.

It would be a brave decision to appoint Graham, given his Millwall/Arse/Totts background - not to mention allegedly dodgy financial dealings - but we do need someone like this, and there arenít too many of them around at the moment. Unfortunately, I think itís unlikely that Graham would want to come here anyway.

The real pity about this affair is that it couldnít have happened a couple of weeks earlier. If it had, the ideal candidate for the job - Vialli - would have still been available. He has that ďwinnersĒ experience, and would probably put out a side looking to play the sort of football that West Ham fans have come to love. But itís too late now.

Of the other candidates, I donít want Stuart Pearce given the job - we need real experience now, and Pearce didnít do at all well during his short time at Forestís helm. He might make a good second-in-charge, acting in a kind of sergeant-major role, but heís not a number one.

As a final note - thereís been a tremendous amount of coverage in the media about this affair, some of it at times almost hysterical, but letís put it all into perspective. West Ham and Harry will go on, in one way or another. In the last few weeks nearly two hundred people have died in Africa just for attending football games. For them and their families there is real devastation. Itís them we should really be feeling sorry for.

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