Reo-Coker hits back after fans' criticism

January 30, 2007

Nigel Reo-Coker has rejected suggestions he is part of a `Baby Bentley' culture at West Ham, insisting: 'I'm still on the same deal that I was when we were promoted'.

The 22-year-old midfielder has suffered a dip in form after impressing last season, one of the problems which has led to the Hammers facing a battle against relegation from the Premiership.

Hammers fans have jeered the England Under-21 international and he has received abusive mail, with accusations he is one of the young players who have got carried away with one successful season in the top flight.

But Reo-Coker believes refuses to accept that his team-mates are comfortable on their Premiership contracts.

'I've heard the criticism so many times about players not being hungry because of the financial rewards we get but I don't know where the information comes from,' he said.

'I have no fat contract. I'm still on the same deal that I was when we were promoted. Other players have had improvements and if I wanted to be a problem I could have gone in and demanded this and that all the time - I haven't done that.'

Before his dismissal as manager, Alan Pardew revealed that West Ham's new owners have a financial plan for every eventuality, including relegation, which would lead to players' contracts being revised if the club drop back into the Coca-Cola Championship.

Alan Curbishley, who took over from Pardew, highlighted a lack of hunger following the thrashing at Reading on New Year's Day and famously mentioned the `Baby Bentley'.

Reo-Coker reacted angrily to abuse from fans following Saturday's defeat to Watford in the FA Cup, but he believes it shows his determination.

'To a certain degree I regret getting involved but I'm only human,' he said in the London Evening Standard. 'For me, if I had not reacted it would have shown more that I didn't care.

'We're being accused of a lack of commitment by some and that is just not true. We're working so hard at the training ground and we just need a bit of luck.'

Meanwhile, Curbishley has been linked with late January transfer window deals to bolster his attack, although the Hammers boss has already distanced himself from a move for Charlton striker Darren Bent. It is understood that Charlton, Curbishley's former club, are not willing to sell Bent.