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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Sometimes in life, when faced with inexplicable stupidity, there is a temptation to assume that perhaps it is you who is being stupid. When Steve McClaren decided to play long-ball to Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney in Russia last year, I briefly toyed with the theory that maybe, with his years of managerial experience, the England boss knew more than the rest of us. It turned out, of course, that he didn't. He was just being stupid and Russia won quite convincingly.

I've had similar concerns with West Ham in the last seven days. The club is run by an Icelandic tycoon Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and young chief executive Scott Duxbury, who used to be a lawyer. Now they can't be entirely stupid, can they? I ask that because, from the outside, they look utterly clueless and I'm wondering if I've missed something.

For all the muck that has been sprayed in Alan Curbishley's direction, it seems that the problems at Upton Park are not entirely of his making. The club's hierachy are angry that their investment has not been rewarded with instant success, but going from relegation escapees to the safety of mid-table in one year is success by anyone's standards. They are angry that the wage bill has spiralled out of control, but whose fault is that? Who drew up Freddy Ljungberg's contract, the football manager or the lawyer? Who reportedly had to pay him off with a lump sum that eclipsed the value of most transfer deals? Curbishley has claimed that he was reduced to coaching a team that other people were building. So where does the blame lie? Who has really made West Ham a laughing stock?

Now the club, with all the class of a kiss'n'tell floozy, are shamlessly revealing the details of their recruitment interviews. Thanks to Director Mike Lee, we know that John Collins impressed, "but is maybe not quite right," and that Roberto Donadoni and Gianfranco Zola, "really shone," in their interviews. How charming.

It has been suggested that they are being so liberal with traditionally confidential information in an effort to flush out their true target, Croatian coach Slaven Bilic, but he would be absolutely mad to ditch his country in pursuit of this post. Why would anyone desert their nation in order to take up a compromised position of power at a viper's nest like Upton Park?

The saddest thing about this whole sorry affair is that Curbishley was actually turning West Ham into quite a likeable club. There was an English spine to the team with Rob Green, Matthew Upson, Mark Noble and Dean Ashton. He gave his talented youth players like Freddie Sears and James Tomkins a chance to shine, and he suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous slurs with great dignity and fortitude.

Duxbury and Gudmundsson are under huge pressure now to appoint the right man and it's reassuring to see them dealing with that in trademark style by pursuing candidates who have never managed in the Premier League. Looking at their past record of decison-making, I wouldn't have expected anything less.
 
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