Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on the departure of Llewelyn Charles Curbishley

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Alan Curbishley and Gianluca Nani

Alan Curbishley welcomed Gianluca Nani to the club but it fell apart when they listened to Nani alone, ignoring and blaming Curbishley for Eggert Magnusson's mistakes

Oh dear, this seems to be an all too regular and occurrence at West Ham. The club once proud of standing by their manager, famously having only five managers until 1989, are now looking for their fourth manager since Harry Redknapp’s departure seven years ago. This is by no means a massive number. Some clubs go through several managers in a season. However, to lose Alan Curbishley for the reasons the former Charlton manager has given betray that something is amiss at the Boleyn Ground.

Most managers are slaves to the league table. A few bad results, no matter the injury situation or the opposition, and most managers are staring down the barrel of the gun. However, what makes this most strange is that it’s a resignation that has come about due to the last-ditch sales of Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney to Sunderland in seperate deals which add up to over £10m. The message has been clear for some time with the appointment of Gianluca Nani as sporting director; the club has overspent since the Icelandic takeover and needs to greatly reduce the wage bill. The board seem to have been pointing at Curbishley as one of the main culprits. Curbishley claims innocence, mirroring the situation of David O’Leary at Leeds, pointing out he did not negotiate these awful deals. Kieron Dyer and Freddie Ljungberg have been highlighted as examples of this excess.

Whilst Dyer was very unlucky to get his leg broken, signing a player with his injury record was pure insanity. On the field, Ljungberg wasn’t a terrible signing either. He’d lost his pace, didn’t show his top game and was one of the two decent creative players last season, along with Nolberto Solano. All in all, he was a reasonable success before his season finished early through injury. The problem is, he didn’t financially justify himself. Eggert Magnusson, who looks less and less competent with every passing day, putting him on silly money that made it a terrible signing. It was clear from the way Magnusson did business that Curbishley has never been in control of the purse strings at West Ham. However, the issue now is the level of input and consultation he had. Nani’s appointment was sold as a supplement to Curbishley but now it’s clear that he was brought in by the chairman to replace Curbishley as the final voice on transfers. They’ve completely cut Alan out of the loop and he felt it was too much to bear.

It’s scary how after a summer of excess, comes the summer of moderation. Last year saw the arrivals of Parker, Faubert, Bellamy, Ljungberg and Dyer, somewhat funded by the departures of Reo-Coker, Benayoun, Harewood and Konchesky. Just how much did the aforementioned five, inflate the wage bill to the point where it feels as though everything has been sold that wasn’t nailed down. A summer where the big summer signing is Valon Behrami, a fringe Swiss international, on a sweetheart structured deal? Over the last two years, enough players have been sold to cover what has previously been spent, the figures don’t add up. To blame Curbishley, the only guy at the club who has proved he can do it consistently on a budget, and then circumvent him is idiotic.

Problem is, they have the public on their side. Nobody will miss Curbishley. Playing a long-ball 4-5-1 that would have done Egil Olsen proud, his brand of percentage football was not appreciated by a group of fans brought up on good football. It wasn’t so long ago that Di Canio, later a Curbishley signing at Charlton, was the maestro at Upton Park. However, for this sort of job, Curbs is the perfect guy. No money, an unbalanced squad and plenty of injuries; exactly the sort of manager you need.

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Written by Michael Farrow

September 5, 2008 at 9:40 pm

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