When Glenn Roeder was appointed manager of West Ham United he was the dressing room choice. Yesterday he was sacked after he and his players refused to even go into a dressing room.
The débâcle at Millmoor on Saturday confirmed in the minds of the club's much-maligned directors what they have discussed for many, many months - and something they probably should have acted upon long ago; that Roeder was simply not the right man for the job.
His illness - collapsing from a brain tumour in his office at Upton Park last April after a fraught victory over Middlesbrough - complicated matters. Roeder was back at work 12 weeks later, adamant that he could continue and bring the club back into the Premiership after an unthinkable relegation which resulted in a fire sale and the still smouldering threat of administration. Roeder could not be sacked then. But in his absence, at the end of last season, West Ham had not only rallied but had looked more cohesive. A happier club, a more focussed club. Anyone who had attended one of Trevor Brooking's briefings in those final weeks at Chadwell Heath, the training ground, could not have failed to notice the change in atmosphere and the respect he commanded.
Contrast that to 7 August and Roeder's pre-season gathering with the press. Appearing a little drained, a little nervous, Roeder strode into the room and sat on the platform. Stony-faced. The first question was about whether Jermain Defoe would join the exodus of young talent. There was a delay in the reply, a long delay. Roeder looked up and said: "Welcome back you bastards." It was a joke, an ad-lib, as, the decent man he is, he quickly pointed out in case anyone should take offence. But he clearly also meant it. There was something heartfelt and understandable in his words.
It was an uncomfortable question-and-answer session. Roeder, for all his insistence that he was in control, did not appear to be. Things were clearly going on without his say-so. The cuts were too deep. And then two days later there was the game against Preston North End in which he was publicly attacked by his latest signing, David Connolly, whom he later described as the "angry ant". Bizarrely, and in an insight into Roeder's style, he had intimated to the press that Connolly would not start the match, although he neglected to inform the player.
Events were unravelling quickly now. When West Ham played Rushden & Diamonds in the Carling Cup the protests were vicious and aimed at the board. The 0-0 draw with Sheffield United was woeful and then defeat against Rotherham United sealed the end to make a mockery of West Ham's status as promotion favourites. Something had to give and, with a board such as West Ham's and a chairman such as the uncommunicative Terence Brown, it was the manager.
Roeder, 47, and a father of three, is well aware of the club's heritage and importance to its community. He was born five miles away from Upton Park and both of his brothers-in-law are avid Hammers' fans. It is in his blood. He also knows that, from the day he took the job, two years ago, many people, including most West Ham fans, did not think he was the right man to take over from Harry Redknapp. It is difficult to succeed if you do not have the support.
But, on the coaching staff, he was popular with the young players that West Ham were then desperate to hold on to. They had seen Frank Lampard say he was adamant about leaving. What about Joe Cole and Michael Carrick? When these players, alarmed at the prospect of someone such as George Graham coming in, went to see the chairman and advocated evolution, not revolution, he acceded. Giving in to the demands of players is rarely regarded as a wise policy and may have meant, perhaps, that Roeder was beholden to them. Ironically, it was the departure of Cole, beyond the manager's control, which sealed his fate.
Roeder is clearly a well-regarded coach and was used by Glenn Hoddle when manager of England, but so were Brian Kidd and Stuart Gray, neither of whom lasted long in management. It also did not help that his previous experience, at Gillingham and Watford, was poor.
Roeder is a popular figure in the game. There was genuine warmth shown towards him by the footballing knights, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Robson last season. The man himself has spoken of how touched he was by the response of so many people to his illness,
Roeder is clearly an honourable man, but one whose honour often translates itself into brittleness. There have been too many fall-outs with players, too many disagreements, too little respect shown in his direction. And too many defeats
GLENN ROEDER FACT FILE
1955: Born Woodford, Essex, 13 December.
1974: Signed for Leyton Orient as an apprentice.
1978: Moved to QPR, playing 157 times for the Loftus Road club, scoring 17 goals.
1984: Moved to Newcastle United. Roeder left St James' Park after 193 appearances, scoring eight times.
1989: Joined Watford.
1992: Became a Gillingham player.
Aug 1992: Appointed manager of Gillingham.
1993: Sacked after losing 22 of 35 games in charge. But made a return to football when appointed manager of Watford.
1996: Sacked by Watford.
1997: Appointed assistant to Chris Waddle at Burnley. Left in 1998 when Waddle resigned.
1999: Appointed coach at Upton Park.
May 2001: Took temporary charge of the Hammers following Harry Redknapp's departure. Offered the job full-time in the summer.
Feb 2002: After turning around a disappointing start to the season, Roeder agrees a new three-year contract.
2003: West Ham are in serious relegation trouble as the season draws to a close.
21 April: Roeder taken to hospital for tests after being taken ill following a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough. Requires neuro-surgery.
11 May: Under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking West Ham are relegated following a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City.
24 Aug: Club release Roeder from his contract. Brooking again takes charge.Reuse content