Friday, 13 April 2007

Hawk In The Rain

I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth's mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk
Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye.
The Hawk in the Rain (1957)
Perhaps it is the mounting pressure of the relegation fight but our normally laconic leader has suddenly developed a touch of the verbals. Ahead of this weekend's crunch encounter with Sheffield United, Alan Curbishley admitted for the first time that the job he took on at Upton Park was harder than he expected. In an article in The Times he is reported as saying: "The job is bigger than I thought. I have realised that since I have been here. But it is not something that is scary. I let the opportunity to manage West Ham slip once and when the chance came up I wasn't going to let it slip again."

The Daily Mail has also picked up on the story and claims Curbishley now has more than enough material to warrant a new addition to his recently published autobiography. It states that after a season of turmoil, in which the club have belatedly discovered their form and fortune to win three straight matches and close within touching distance of safety with five matches left, that book could yet have fairytale ending. "We were written off three or four weeks ago, quite rightly so because we were ten points away from safety," observes Curbishley. "But we have narrowed that down. We've given ourselves a shout. There is a long way to go but if we can turn it around it will be a great result for us and we have got to do that."

Elsewhere, Curbishley has spoken about his envy of Neil Warnock for being able to swap the muck and bullets of a relegation dogfight for the calm of his family farm in Devon. Warnock is the Ted Hughes of the Premiership, frequently retreating into the Devon wilderness for periods of contemplative solitude. In a piece in The Sun, Abridge based Curbishley admitted: "I spoke to Neil about five or six weeks ago. Sheffield is his club and he jumped at the chance to manage them. He knows it is similar for me, West Ham is my club. The big difference is he can skip off to Devon — I can’t." The Blades manager has clearly being using his time in isolation to brood over recent events. He is complaining in The Mirror that West Ham should give life presidency to the linesman who awarded their winning goal against Blackburn. He is quoted as saying: "If West Ham do stay up now, they ought to give Mr Devine life presidency of the club. It was one of the worst decisions of the season and it might be someone with a flag who decides who goes down this season. When you look at West Ham's goal with Mr Devine, it could all be down to an official - there's such a fine line."

Bobby Zamora has been playing in such pain from a knee injury in recent weeks that, rather than push his forward too hard, Alan Curbishley is granting him as much rest as necessary between matches. In an article in the Guardian, the West Ham manager freely admits to taking a page from the Brian Clough book of football management. "We've been patching him [Zamora] up a bit," said Curbishley. "He's led the line in recent weeks as well as I've seen anyone. The answer in his case is rest. We have to just get him through training and then he plays on the Saturday. Bobby has shown in the last couple of weeks that he's prepared to go out there and get on with it. In some respects, resting in between games isn't such a bad thing. Brian Clough used to rest his players in the week all the time - they never trained at all in between games in the run-ins."

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