Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The Sinking Ship

With the good ship West Ham on the verge of sinking, it's no surprise the rats are forming an orderly queue. According to an article in The Guardian, Yossi Benayoun and Marlon Harewood will lead the anticipated exodus from Upton Park if, as looks likely, the club are relegated from the Premiership. Benayoun has not played since the 4-0 defeat at Charlton in February, and while reports of a rift between the player and manager have been denied by both parties, sources close to the player has confirmed that there has already been firm interest from several Premiership clubs. Those interested in acquiring the services of the Israeli include Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Portsmouth - where Benayoun's Israeli mentor Avram Grant is the club's technical director, as well as several Spanish clubs.

Harewood will also definitely leave in the event of relegation having fallen out with the West Ham management. Martin O'Neill is known to be an admirer, although he will face competition from both Spurs and Newcastle. The story also suggests Alan Curbishley will face other potential evacuees; the January transfer-window signings Calum Davenport, Nigel Quashie, Matthew Upson, Luis Boa Morte and Lucas Neill are understood to have clauses in their contracts allowing them to leave in the event of relegation. In addition, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora, Anton Ferdinand and Nigel Reo-Coker are also unlikely to remain with the club in the Championship and Robert Green could be loaned to a Premiership club. Also in the article, and of more immediate concern, is the news that injury will almost certainly rule Matthew Upson out for the rest of the season. It means that the £6m January signing from Birmingham may well have played his last game for the club. "He has had another series of treatments and has not responded," said Curbishley. "We are running out of time; it's difficult [for him] to return before end of season. It has just been a disaster. We seem to be in the same position - when players come back they have not played for a long while. We have taken gambles before and they have not quite worked."

In other news, Alan Curbishley is hoping that Carlos Tévez will respond positively to the criticism metered out to the Argentine forward following the 3-0 defeat to Sheffield United. "I must admit I was disappointed with his performance," the West Ham manager said. "He has galvanised everybody in the way that he has attacked things and performed recently. I’ve had to substitute him in some matches because of the [tireless] effort he has put in, but we did not get that from him and some others against Sheffield and I need that against Chelsea. This is a stage for some to respond. He [Tévez] has to be one of them, so let’s see if he can bounce back."

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