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A strife less ordinary

Falling our with your leading players is a sure-fire recipe for disaster for any manager. Just look at West Ham, a club now in terminal free-fall.

Tony Cascarino, 14 Mar 2007

You don’t need to be a footballing genius to realise that West Ham’s Premiership days are numbered.

Spurs on Sunday was the first time since Christmas that the Hammers have really performed as a team, and still they lost.

Their plight’s been blamed on players losing as much as £50,000 to each other in card games, but I know for a fact that they were knocked on the head three months ago.

In any case, it’s a red herring because those card schools were taking place last season when West Ham finished ninth in the league and got to the Cup Final, which as we all know they came within a minute of winning.

What is definite is that there are different factions in the squad who are barely talking to each other – or the manager.

It was assumed after the 15 good years he had at Charlton that Alan Curbishley would be an instant success at West Ham, but so far I haven’t seen any signs of him getting the best out of the players. He’s averaging three or four changes every game, which means that he obviously doesn’t know his best team.

He’s sidelined Roy Carroll, Teddy Sheringham, Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood who were pivotal to West Ham’s success last season; failed to get rid of Matthew Etherington in the transfer-window, which it’s obvious he wanted to; and had to deal again with Paul Konchesky who he previously froze out at Charlton. As if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, Anton Ferdinand breaks a direct club directive and goes to America with a group of friends when the West Ham players are supposed to be resting at home.

While you can’t directly blame Alan for that, you have to question whether or not he’s got the respect of the players.

Somebody who obviously does is Roy Keane who’s going great guns at Sunderland. I’m sticking with Birmingham and Derby as my two clubs to gain automatic promotion from the Championship, but of the chasing pack you’d reckon on Sunderland having the grit to negotiate the play-offs.

I’ve said it before, but Roy’s a lot deeper-thinker than people give him credit for. Whenever we were away on international duty he used to chain-read books, and he’s done yoga for many, many years. Yes, he could be a hothead on the pitch, but off it there’s a calmness, which I think will help him become a first-rate manager. It depends on when Alex Ferguson decides to retire, but you wouldn’t totally bet against Roy Keane being the next Manchester United manager.

I got a taste of what it’s like to be in the dug-out myself last week when I took charge of Inis Mór for their Craggy Island Cup game against Inis Oirr who were managed by my old mate John Aldridge. How we went from being in the 1990 World Cup together to hanging out on a beach with a bunch of drunken priests and nuns I don’t know, but it was one of the funniest days-out I’ve ever had. I asked one of the organisers why it was being played at the same time as the Chelsea v Arsenal League Cup Final, and he said, “The tide will be in if we leave it any later!”

John was in great form, although still a bit shell-shocked at being passed over for the Ireland job.

As he said at the time, he considered it a done deal after his interview with the FAI, but for whatever reason they didn’t give it to him. Having been passed over twice already, I think it’s unlikely that Aldo will get the job in the future, but you never know.

Ireland he’d find hard to turn down, but I don’t think he’ll manage in the lower divisions again because there isn’t the money available to do the job properly. Having seen how badly John took Inis Oirr’s 2-0 defeat, I think it’s best that he sticks to his media work!

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