Hammer comes down on Upton Park forced sales

Pardew admits that West Ham have sold a lot of talent. But, he tells Ronald Atkin, there is still plenty left
Click to follow
The Independent Online

As if he didn't have enough on his plate trying to pilot West Ham back into the Premiership while being forced by the club's dire financial problems to sell top players at regular intervals, Alan Pardew has also had to contend with an unfriendly quirk in the new season's fixture list.

As if he didn't have enough on his plate trying to pilot West Ham back into the Premiership while being forced by the club's dire financial problems to sell top players at regular intervals, Alan Pardew has also had to contend with an unfriendly quirk in the new season's fixture list.

This afternoon Pardew's team play Wigan, the third successive clash with opponents he regards as rivals for promotion. In the season's opener eight days back it was Leicester, then on Tuesday West Ham faced Pardew's old club, Reading. Now come the team he edged out of the play-offs last spring.

"It has been a tough call, to have three games like that thrown at us as soon as the season started," said Pardew. Not to mention the on-going saga of Michael Carrick's impending sale - the manager asserts this will be the last of the forced departures which have been going on more or less since he walked out on Reading to take the Upton Park job last October.

"Unfortunately, since I have been here I have had to sell a lot of talent and try to take the team forward," he said at the Hammers' Chadwell Heath training ground on Friday. "So it has been difficult, but that's the brief I had and I'm not shying away from it. I accepted that when I took the job, but we are trying to keep things positive and all the drawn-out speculation [over Carrick] doesn't help. All along I have wanted to keep him. But he has just one year left on his contract and we can't let that run out. So he either re-signs or he moves on.

"Frustration isn't so much evident on the training ground and in games because footballers are people who just get on with things, but it's difficult because the press want to know the answers and so do our fans and while things like Carrick are hanging over our heads we can't get a super-positive message coming out of here, unfortunately."

One clear-cut message is that Pardew will see none of the revenue generated by Carrick's transfer. "Michael's replacement will have to come from within the club," he confirmed. One prospect is Nigel Reo-Coker, brought in from Wimbledon's stricken ship last season, and someone who did well in West Ham's first two League matches. "I bought Nigel with a view to the future, but not the too-distant future" said Pardew. "So he needs to come through for us this year. With Carrick going, that would be a very good slot for him.

"He is very quick to pass the ball, very quick with the ball, sometimes to his own detriment, he needs to slow down a bit. But speed and athleticism are a key part of the game now and Nigel has certainly got that." Another recruit from Wimbledon, Jobi McAnuff, has already moved on, sold to fund what Pardew sees as a need to strengthen a defence, a need which gained impetus with Christian Dailly suffering a knee injury which may keep him out for several weeks. "I didn't want to sell Jobi but I needed some money to buy defenders, so he has been sacrificed."

Without placing his hand on a Bible, Pardew is more than hopeful that there will be no more forced sales. "I am obviously dictated to by the finances of the club, but we still have great crowds and great players here. I think if Carrick goes that will be the last of it. If anyone else moves on, like McAnuff, it would be a choice I made to strengthen the squad. We feel we are a stronger team than last season and I like to think we can be as strong, if not stronger, if Michael goes. But that's up to us to prove."

In pursuit of such proof, Pardew has plumped for experience in bringing on board the 38-year-old Teddy Sheringham, and Tottenham's £11m misfit, Sergei Rebrov. Sheringham's goal earned victory over Reading, but it was the former England man's generalship which impressed his manager. "In the last 15 minutes you could see him leading the team, showing them what it takes to seal a win. You can't put a price on someone like that.

"We haven't seen the best of Rebrov yet, but that's partly down to me because I have thrown him in at the deep end with no pre-season under his belt. But we are going to see a lot better from him because we have seen it on the training ground." With his other arrival, Luke Chadwick, keen to prove Manchester United were wrong to part with him, Pardew has reason for optimism since a defence which he regards as in need of strengthening has yet to concede a goal. The fixture list is coming to the rescue, too. The next games are against Crewe and Burnley.

Comments