Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Ticking Clock

Alan Curbishley has turned the heat up on Avram Grant ahead of this weekend's much anticipated clash. Curbishley warned the clock is already ticking on the Chelsea boss to turn his club's fortunes around following their Carling Cup Final defeat, at the same time insinuating that club owner Roman Abramovich will expect big returns on his huge investment. Curbishley, one of the Barclays Premier League's longest serving managers, also says Grant will not be afforded the sort of time that Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have been given to win trophies. It is the latest in a war of words that dates back to the previous meeting between the two teams at Stanford Bridge in early December. Grant chided West Ham United for an overly physical approach during the controversial 1-0 home victory, while Curbishley responded by comparing the Israeli's effectiveness to that of Gary Megson. "He’s been put in a position where he’s got a big, big club on his hands, so perhaps he feels he has to make some big, big statements," Curbishley said at the time. "I don’t think he’s changed too much, he’s just said get on with it. I think he’s come in and done what Gary Megson’s done."

Almost three months on and the West Ham United manager, who spent 15 years at Charlton before taking over at Upton Park 14 months ago, said: "It's the life we're in at the moment. Unless you get results and success quickly then you don't get the same time anymore. When you get to a high profile club everything you do is going to be looked at - body language, the way you walk onto the pitch, the way you dress, every last detail. Everything Avram Grant does is going to be analysed and that is something he has to handle. I looked at the cup final and the start was the most important thing and Tottenham made much the better start. If you are lucky enough to be a manager of a top-four club then that comes with the territory. If it's not Avram Grant, it's Rafa Benitez and if Arsenal weren't doing so well it would be Arsene Wenger. Being a manager is getting tougher. That honeymoon period has gone. You even look at someone like Dave Jones at Cardiff who was under pressure and then he turned it around. I think you get applauded over the top when you win, then you get over castigated when you lose. You have to take it with a pinch of salt. I've never been under too much pressure as a manager, apart from maybe when I was first at Charlton when I wanted to do things and change things."

Curbishley insists that the expectancy level is lower at West Ham despite big foreign investment at Upton Park - but he has still set his sights on reaching Europe this season. He added: "We have to win at least half of our remaining games - and perhaps do a little bit more than that. I feel very confident. We need a bit of stability because in the last four or five years we've had a play-off final we lost, a play-off final we won and then last season was played out across the back pages."

Meanwhile, Robert Green has issued a rallying cry for all the West Ham United players and fans to pull together against Chelsea this Saturday. Speaking on the official site, Green expects the team to show the same resilience and form as in 2-1 and 1-0 home wins against Manchester United and Liverpool respectively this season. "In true West Ham style it seems to be the games where we excel," he said. "They had a big game on Sunday and they have a big [Champions League] game on the Wednesday after our game and you know they won't be looking forward to coming to Upton Park. I don't think anyone ever does really. Between ourselves and the fans we can make it as intimidating as possible and really get stuck into them and make it a double over the west London clubs."

The game is the first in a demanding spell that sees the club go to Liverpool on Wednesday and then Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday week. "Chelsea will be tough but we have got a tough few games coming ahead," mused Green. "We are looking up though and we can put a positive spin on the Fulham result. We have played better this season and not won. We created a lot of chances and on another day we would have taken them. It seems to be happening quite a lot this season." Solano's 87th-minute winner at Craven Cottage came just after Jimmy Bullard found himself bearing down on the West Ham United goal. He let fly for what looked like being the decisive moment when Green came to the rescue. "I was fortunate," he said. "It was one of them where I have made myself as big as possible and just managed to react as I am going down to where he has hit the shot. It is something I don't really think about and thankfully got a hand on it. We scored just after that so it was pleasing in what was a pretty terrible game."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That game at Stamford Bridge was frustrating to the say the least, and the Cole goal was so far offside it was a joke. It was one of our best away performances of the season.


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