Thursday, April 06, 2006


Glimpse behind the curtain

Pardew wants his Hammers to be feared and revered - most of all, he wants them to be winners
By Mark Shail 05-04-06

To say Alan Pardew's young West Ham side has come a long way in a short space of time is an under-statement. Just over a year ago, the Hammers were languishing outside the top six in the Championship and the Upton Park faithful were taking their frustrations out on the club's under-fire boss on a weekly basis.

However, 12 months on, West Ham find themselves on the verge of an FA Cup Final and on the brink of a European place for the first time in seven years. Despite their unexpected success this term, Pardew says he is determined to keep things moving on an upward curve.

"I want us to play with exuberance. I want people to say 'aren't West Ham a good side? They are all about winning, they are trying to play attractive football and having a go'. We have produced that, sporadically, on occasions," said Pardew.

"We lack a little bit of smartness and knowledge, but we are gaining that. Nigel Reo-Coker has lulls. I tell him that to be a top player he has to produce every week. He tends to produce against the best teams, but against some of the lesser teams he is not as effective. If Roy Keane was playing against Colchester he would be the best player on the pitch. Nigel needs to get that mentality."

Pardew is as meticulous with his match preparations as he is with the way he treats his players on a one-to-one basis, realising his assessment of individual personalities and mood swings are a crucial aspect of successful man-management.

He says the likes of Anton Ferdinand and Marlon Harewood are 'chirpy', goalkeeper Roy Carroll can take it very personally when he makes a mistake, while new record signing Dean Ashton is quiet, although his desire is there for all to see.

"Any new player is difficult. I know I upset him on Wednesday (Ashton) when I had a go about his first half performance against United. Well that is my way. We will talk about it. I have never met a more focussed, determined player than Ashton.

"Things happen between managers and players, but I'm sure we will develop a bond. I have it with all the players, Anton more than most. But you have to learn about each other to get things right.

"We have the chance to win something - we have to grasp it. I am always mindful of a strategy to try and win the game at the end. People under-estimate team selection. If you look at Jose Mourinho sometimes, his selection is about winning in the last 20 minutes."

As for the dressing room banter, Pardew insists he can hold his own against anybody in that department, with the exception of Wally Downes - former Wimbledon Crazy Gang member and Pardew's former coach at Reading.

"When I began, my banter was a little bit sharp. I think I can verbally joust with anyone and win - apart from Wally Downes. I've had to focus on that as players can take it negatively. I like to correct things if the banter gets too negative.

"Peter Grant (his assistant) might joke to someone 'you weren't so good yourself at the weekend'. I don't like that as it is negative. Banter is part of letting off steam, part of the game, talking about the weekend, what is on TV, Didier Drogba's handball - we are no different to any other club."

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