Glenn Roeder was yesterday sacked as the manager of West Ham United just four games into the new season. Trevor Brooking, a director, will take control of the team, newly relegated from the Premiership, until a permanent successor is appointed.
Brooking, 54, took temporary charge at the end of last season, when he impressed, while Roeder underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour after collapsing following a match last spring. Although he was immediately installed as favourite to take the job on a permanent basis, it is thought highly unlikely that Brooking will do so.
Names being suggested last night as successors included the former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams - who could reunite with his former manager, George Graham - plus the former Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson, the highly-rated Reading manager, Alan Pardew, and a one-time West Ham player, Iain Dowie, now in charge of Oldham Athletic.
The departure of Roeder, 47, who has been in charge for the past two turbulent seasons, comes as no surprise although the timing does appear ill thought-out. In a statement, the club said: "West Ham United wish to announce that Glenn Roeder's contract has been terminated with immediate effect and he has been relieved of his duties as team manager.
"The board would like to place on record their gratitude to Glenn for his hard work and commitment to the club since his permanent appointment in June 2001. This was demonstrated by his desire to return to active duty so quickly after his recent illness.
"The board, however, feel that following relegation to the First Division the club's best chance of returning to the Premiership at the first attempt would be enhanced by a change of manager."
They added that "interviews will begin immediately" to decide a successor. "Until that time the board has complete confidence in Trevor's ability to manage the team starting at home on Tuesday night against Bradford City," the club added.
After a disastrous start to his managerial career at West Ham, where he had been a coach before Harry Redknapp's departure, Roeder steered the club to seventh in the Premiership in his first season. However, relegation followed last May, despite a late rally in which Brooking presided over seven points being taken from the final three games. It was the first time that West Ham had dropped out of the top-flight since 1993 and resulted in a severe cost-cutting at the administration-threatened club with 10 players - including Paolo Di Canio - immediately released and other young talents such as Glen Johnson and Joe Cole sold.
The decision to sack Roeder followed the shambolic 1-0 defeat to Rotherham United on Saturday in which West Ham's players refused to change in the dressing rooms at Millmoor after it was claimed they were not up to standard. During and after the match, Roeder appeared edgy and distraught. His team selection also appeared perverse, with several players out-of-position. The result left the club, favourites to be promoted, mid-table after a fortunate win against Preston North End and a draw at home to Sheffield United. The sacking will undoubtedly bring an end to Roeder's career in management after unsuccessful spells at Gillingham and Watford.
He returned to work in July to be confronted with a horrendous set of financial demands at a club which had grown fat on the proceeds of the Premiership and with the country's sixth highest wage bill.
However, Roeder had also fallen out with a succession of players over the past year, including Di Canio, Sebastian Schemmel and Gary Breen. There were also unsuccessful signings such as Lee Bowyer, on loan, and Tomas Repka.
Roeder's authority was constantly questioned. One surprised to see him go was Neil Mellor, the young loan signing from Liverpool, who said: "I am in shock and it will take some time to sink in for myself and the other players. I am gutted, but now we just have to do it for the boss - and get some results out of respect for him really. He is a really nice fellow and I can't believe he has left."
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