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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 16:13 GMT
Curbishley faces Hammers battle

Alan Curbishley is West Ham's new manager

By Caroline Cheese

Alan Curbishley was unveiled as West Ham manager on Wednesday, just two days after Alan Pardew was sacked.

BBC Sport looks at the daunting challenge facing Curbishley and the credentials of the new man.

THE CHALLENGE AHEAD

Curbishley's challenge is simple: keep West Ham in the Premiership.

The television revenues for top-flight clubs will rise next season, so in 2007 more than at any other time, relegation will be potentially catastrophic.

NEXT FOUR GAMES
17 Dec Man Utd (H)
23 Dec Fulham (A)
26 Dec Portsmouth (H)
30 Dec Man City (H)
And Hammers fans are already beginning to relive the nightmare of the 2002/3 season when their struggling side was labelled by many as 'too good to go down' only to see them relegated on the last day of the season.

"It would be devastating to go down again," former West Ham defender Julian Dicks told BBC Sport.

"Last season, finishing ninth and getting to the FA Cup final, was great and it's unfortunate that we haven't been able to improve on that, or even match it.

"But all I want now is to stay up."

Easier said than done.

For a club that finished last season with the fifth-best away record in the Premiership, this term has been nothing short of an abberration.

HAMMER HORRORS
Only Charlton and Fulham have conceded more goals
Only Watford have scored as few goals
Posted two clean sheets - less than any other club
Only Bobby Zamora has scored more than two goals
Share with Charlton the longest losing streak of the season of five
The Hammers have picked up one point (at second-from-bottom Watford) and have managed a pitiful two goals - less than any other club in the English league.

Not only that but they have leaked 16 goals and it was the 4-0 thrashing at Bolton on Saturday which surely hastened Pardew's departure.

"Some of the players need a rocket up their backsides.They seem to think they've got a right to be there," said Dicks.

"I watched the game against Bolton and to be perfectly honest, the team were disgraceful. They've got to pull together as a team."

THE RIGHT MAN?

Alan Curbishley
Curbishley takes over with the Hammers 18th
West Ham's new Icelandic owners were clinical in their firing and hiring.

Pardew had barely closed the door behind him at Upton Park before Curbishley arrived for talks to take over the hotseat.

He was, in so many ways, the obvious choice: a manager with an impeccable track record, a player who featured alongside West Ham legends Billy Bonds and Sir Trevor Brooking in the 1970s and, most handily, a man who was sitting at home itching for just such an opportunity to present itself.

The only question mark is his inexperience in the transfer market and that will be tested almost immediately in January when he is charged with the responsibility of buying the players to keep West Ham in the Premiership.

Dicks said: "Curbishley hasn't had a transfer kitty before but he's been in the game such a long time, I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

"I've heard there will be about 12m available, but the problem is that one good player these days costs eight or nine million.

"We definitely need a striker who can score 15 goals a season and maybe an aggressive midfield player who can take the game by the scruff of the neck."

THE ASHTON EFFECT
In the 16 games Ashton played for the Hammers last year, they lost just four - to Man Utd, Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Liverpool
Against Middlesbrough, Ashton came on as a sub with the side already 2-0 behind. In defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup final, Ashton was substituted with the Hammers 3-2 ahead
After Ashton left Crewe for Norwich in 2005, the Alex went 18 games without a win
Without injured striker Dean Ashton, the Hammers' goalscoring record has been dire this season, so Curbishley could be tempted to return to former club Charlton for their England hitman Darren Bent.

But his most pressing concern could be the form of the players already at the club, not least skipper Nigel Reo-Coker and much-hyped Argentine pair Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

However, the "rocket" that Dicks believes the players need might not be provided by Curbishley.

Former Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely told BBC Five Live: "Curbishley isn't one of these managers who jumps around and rants and raves.

"He's very studious and he's very thorough in all his preparations. He's a fantastic manager.

"He'll be rubbing his hands at the prospect of having a few quid to spend in January and I think he's exactly the right man to go into West Ham, shake the place up and demand they pick themselves up."



SEE ALSO
Reo-Coker reveals West Ham doubts
13 Dec 06 |  West Ham Utd
Argentine deals will haunt Pardew
11 Dec 06 |  Football
Pardew sacked as West Ham manager
11 Dec 06 |  West Ham Utd
West Ham relegated
11 May 03 |  Premiership


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