Brooking calms the storm as book closes on Winterburn

West Ham United 1 Bradford City 0
Click to follow

Just as the self-styled academy of football was riotously turning into a school for scandal, up, again, pops one of its most cherished alumni to restore order. Caretaker Trevor Brooking knew that nothing less than a victory would be acceptable. A victory is what he achieved but it was brutally unconvincing if raucous.

If the bookmakers are to be believed, another old boy will soon be appointed manager for the job that Brooking so plainly does not want. Ladbrokes earlier closed the book on Nigel Winterburn, the 39-year-old former defender, who accused the club's board of "doing the dirty" by sacking Glenn Roeder. Fun times ahead, then, if he is selected.

This contest could have been called the Bantams against the Lightweights, judging by the débâcle in which West Ham refused to occupy a "sub-standard" dressing room at Rotherham. It was a farcical episode, and performance, which finally did for Roeder. The chairman, Terence Brown, insisted that it was not an attempt to find a scapegoat. It rang somewhat hollow. Indeed Brooking's words showed signs of deeper discontent although he made clear that the players had been told the events at Millmoor were unacceptable. He added: "Whoever takes over will have to be strong to get a grip on the different personalities the club has."

Playing Bradford was also a clear reminder of the slide into administration that demotion can cause - although the visitors debts of £35million are, incidentally, smaller than West Ham's. The severe pruning so far at Upton Park will only work if they are promoted immediately. Bradford, meanwhile, fielded a team of 11 free transfers.

As expected Brooking, who intimated he was willing to be more involved with the new manager, made changes - and showed courage naming three attackers. However, the formation led to a frantic attempt to get the ball forward. The growing frustration was punctured when Jermain Defoe - again the difference - ran across the face of the penalty area, evading three challenges, to shoot to spectacular effect. Mark Paston turned another Defoe drive on to the post and reacted even more sharply to deflect David Connolly's shot against the crossbar. However West Ham were fortunate to escape after some woefully leaden defending allowed the ball to run to Gareth Edds who somehow slid it across goal.

Into the second half and Matthew Etherington and Neil Mellor both wasted chances with shots that lacked conviction. Bradford also pressed with Andy Gray forcing an alert tip-over from David James before, after a typical defensive calamity, Michael Boulding's attempted chip was saved. It made for a nervous finish with West Ham, after their succession of misses, reluctant to commit. Unsurprisingly the initiative was surrendered although the visitors' own over-eagerness - Paul Evans and Michael Branch both snatching - prevented further drama in the East End to add to the last few days.

West Ham United (4-3-3): James; Repka, Dailly, Pearce, Horlock; Carrick, Lee (Hutchison, 49), Etherington; Mellor, Connolly, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Ferdinand, Sofiane, Kilgallon.

Bradford City (5-3-2): Paston; Edds, Wetherall, Francis, Gavin, Jacobs; Branch (Wolleaston, 69), Heckingbottom, Evans; Gray, Windass (Standing, 23). Substitutes not used: Combe (gk) Kearney, Emanuel.

Referee: R Beeby (Northants).