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Relegation Candidates


With the new season almost upon us, Iím looking forward to getting back to Upton Park, but I fear itís going to be a long and difficult season.

Since the departure of the previous managerial regime, the news coming out of Upton Park has been mainly gloomy. Firstly, our apparent prime candidates for the managerís job decided they would be better off elsewhere (and who can blame them!). It didnít take long for the Board to lower their sights and appoint Glenn Roeder, whoís previous track record does nothing to inspire confidence in the fans.

The Board have given us a load of crap about how Roederís coaching expertise is widely recognised throughout the English game, but his record at Gillingham and Watford (on the face of it) does not look good. Looking deeper at his time in charge of these clubs, one could see why the Board might view him as a good choice. When he went to Gillingham, they were certain relegation candidates, and he turned them around on a shoestring budget. At Watford, he was responsible for bringing in Kevin Phillips at a bargain price, then selling him on to Sunderland for a considerable profit. All of which sounds rather familiar, doesnít it?

News of players leaving, or reportedly wanting to leave, has dominated, with little news of additions to the squad. Although weíve been linked with a few names, actual signings have been few. The £15 million transfer budget has largely been left to accumulate interest in the bank.

Naturally, West Ham have been seen as fair game in the press for stories about players wanting out. We all knew FLJ would want out (but suspected he did even before his Dadís departure). As usual, many of the stories have been rubbish. For example, one tabloid named the time and date that Newcastle were going to unveil Sinclair as their new £6m signing. The appointed time came and went a few weeks ago, and Sincs is still at West Ham - though of course there were a few words exchanged between the two managers concerned! Paolo has also been the subject of speculation (nothing new there!), with him going to Man Ure, then to Fulham.

It was good to see that Roeder moved quickly to address the goalkeeping situation by bringing in David James. Shaka was a disaster at times last year, and James is one of Englandís top four keepers, so I view this a positive step forward. Seb Schemmelís signature was also welcome, as I thought he did very well for us on loan last year.

I thought things were really beginning to look up when I heard that we were about to sign the Italian central defender Alessandro Pierrini, but that soon fell through. Central defence is a area we badly need to address, as, with the possible exception of the injury prone Ian Pearce, the squad contains no-one of real quality in that position. News that we were again after Tihinen was encouraging, but that seems to have all gone quiet again.

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