Alan Curbishley admitted yesterday that he had sought advice from the Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, before embarking on the biggest spending spree of the January transfer window.
West Ham United spent £19m on six players last month, with two leaving, accounting for just under a third of the overall cash total of transfers completed. It eclipsed the £11.6m Redknapp spent this time last year at Fratton Park when be signed nine new players with seven leaving before eventually saving Portsmouth from the drop.
The frenetic business reflected the desperate state at both clubs, as well as the ambition of their owners, and having taken over in December, just as Redknapp did last season, it is no surprise Curbishley picked up the phone. "At Portsmouth they managed to bring in players and changed it around," Curbishley said. "We have to look at what they have done." Redknapp also had a harrowing experience the previous year in failing to save Southampton.
Yesterday Curbishley presented his final - and most expensive - signing. Matthew Upson arrived for £7.5m from Birmingham City just hours before the window closed. "I've brought in a player I know who can take up the baton," Curbishley said of the 27-year-old who will go straight into the West Ham team for the meeting with Aston Villa.
Curbishley admitted it had been a difficult month and that despite having money to spend, clubs were reluctant to sell. "For them the money is irrelevant, as Mark Hughes [the Blackburn Rovers manager] said, it's players they need." West Ham took one player from Blackburn, Lucas Neill, and although he was an original target, albeit one apparently destined for Liverpool until greater wages were offered at Upton Park, Curbishley failed to land the winger and striker he sought.
Priorities partly changed through injuries but also because players such as Ashley Young decided to move elsewhere despite West Ham agreeing a £9.65m fee before Villa. He will now face Curbishley's side tomorrow.
The West Ham manager defended his transfer dealings. "If you look at clubs who have been trying to do business they've been in the bottom half," he said. "I don't know if others think we are desperate but I don't think we've been held to ransom. I don't think we have been outrageous. I'm just pleased for us that Eggert [Magnusson, the chairman] has made the money available."
Magnusson said he believed the club had achieved a "very good result" in the transfer market. A few results on the pitch are now required. "It's my responsibility as chairman to see that everything possible is done to get the players here to help us achieve the result we want to achieve and that is to play in the Premier League next season," Magnusson said.
The Icelander insisted he had no regrets about sacking Alan Pardew and appointing Curbishley and also claimed that "the speculation has been way over the top" with some of the players West Ham have been linked with and the wages they have offered.
However it is undeniable that signings such as Upson have agreed far greater pay deals than they had at their previous clubs. Nevertheless the defender insisted he had moved to West Ham "because they showed a keen interest in me" and because he had made his mind up that, after four years, he wanted to leave Birmingham.
Upson said he had refused two new contract offers at St Andrews and confirmed that he had called Birmingham's co-owner David Sullivan, while he was on holiday in Barbados, because he wanted "clarification" over his future.
"Not once did I say that he had to release me," Upson insisted. "It came down to a business decision in the end that I left."Reuse content