Curbishley baffled by Hammers crisis

February 25, 2007

Alan Curbishley admits he is no nearer solving the West Ham crisis than Alan Pardew before he got the sack.

But the new Scandinavian regime at Upton Park, fronted by Eggert Magnusson, are publicly still backing him - even though the vote of confidence they issued so soon after Saturday's dreadful humiliation at The Valley is worth taking with a pinch of salt.

Just a few days after Pardew received similar support in December he was out on his ear - with Curbishley coming in to end his own vacation from the game after 15 years managing Charlton.

Hammers look doomed to the drop now and it will not be the fault of either Curbishley or Pardew. It may be an easy excuse to blame everything on injuries but they have certainly played a big part and the players have responded lamely to a series of setbacks.

Curbishley, who has not won in the league in 10 games since his opening game triumph over Manchester United, said: 'Of course, that record is not good enough but we've got 10 games left and must hope to turn it around.

'Are we going down with a fight or a whimper? I've looked at lots of games before I came into the club as well as all the ones I've been involved in, trying to assess why all this has happened.

'The stats tell me they lost 13 games out of 16 before I came, including eight on the spin, and what is evident is that Alan (Pardew) also had problems naming the same side twice - like I have.

'The centre halves were out injured all the time including the Player of the Year (Danny) Gabbidon and (James) Collins and Alan was always having to juggle around at the back as well as with the strikers.

'One week it was Tevez and Cole, the next week Zamora on his own, and then Harewood and Zamora.

'It is still happening. I haven't been able to improve it. My office has been like a revolving door with all the changes.

'And yet a year ago if you asked West Ham fans what the team would be week after week they could tell you straight away.

'But no matter who goes out there the only way we are going to get confidence back is with results. The one thing I'm hoping for is a positive result and the chance to get a settled team.'

Curbishley, who insists he has no regrets about taking the job 10 weeks ago, is hoping for a lift tomorrow.

Dean Ashton, his £7million striker, is due to play in his first reserve comeback match since breaking an ankle on England duty in August alongside £5million centre half Matthew Upson, who tore a calf muscle in his Hammers debut at Aston Villa last month.

Pardew has no urgency to strengthen his own team for the next two matches against Watford (away) and Wigan (home) if they continue to play like this.

They were lucky to survive an offside call against Marcus Bent whose cross was thumped home by Darren Ambrose for the opener on 23 minutes.

But they had driven the game from the start and earned two more goals from Jerome Thomas' break on the left which he finished with a sweet shot past Robert Green and Darren Bent's smart finish from a Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink through pass before the interval.

Hasselbaink hit a post in the second half before Thomas' second goal in a year wrapped things up for Charlton 10 minutes from time.

Pardew insisted he was more relieved than delighted by the win.

He said: 'It was a tough day for both Curbs and myself. I sincerely feel for him, West Ham and their fans but my job is to keep Charlton in the Premiership now.

'Luckily for me, we've had a wonderful performance when we have needed it because these three points mean everything. Now we must go on from here having set the standard.

'Having Darren Bent's finishing ability back was a big boost. His finish for the third goal was really top-drawer.

'He can score goals and that's an expensive commodity in this game but the highlight for me was the performance of our two wide players, Ambrose and Thomas.

'I've seen them playing at this level now and they can be a great asset for us with their delivery.'

Former Arsenal winger Thomas said: 'A lot of us here feel sad for Curbs but we also feel for Pardew. He has come in and made a lot of good changes.'

Three points behind in 19th place, the same survival criteria applies to Hammers.

Relegation a year after reaching the FA Cup final and finishing in the top 10 under Pardew on their return to the Premiership would be a major blow but Curbishley's appraisal of the situation is honest - 'we need to do what Portsmouth did last year'.