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Monday, 27 January, 2003, 11:49 GMT
Roeder to nowhere
The dejected Glenn Roeder faces a grim future
The dejected Glenn Roeder faces a grim future
BBC Sport Online's Phil McNulty

Glenn Roeder and West Ham United's shameful season hit a new low with the 6-0 FA Cup humiliation at Manchester United.

The Hammers' gutless show was an embarrassing insult to the 9,000 loyal fans who travelled to Old Trafford to witness what was little more than public torture.

If ever one act was that of a desperate - or perhaps befuddled - manager, it was Roeder's decision to make a triple substitution 10 minutes from time with his team six goals behind at Manchester United?

What were his instructions to those substitutes? "Go out and enjoy it lads... two goals from each of you and it's back to our place."

They were arguably the most pointless substitutions in football history.

As far as West Ham are concerned, Roeder no longer serves a useful football purpose, but the Upton Park board must not escape censure.

And if we examine the evidence it presents a damning case against Roeder's recent tenure.


TACTICS

Difficult one this because at Old Trafford there did not appear to be any. Random defenders making crass errors, exemplified by the performance of Gary Breen.

Roeder appears to rely solely on moments of inspiration from men such as Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and - when fit - Paolo di Canio and Freddie Kanoute.

The substitutions at Old Trafford defied belief. He was lucky the players in question didn't refuse to go on. It flouted West Ham's reputation as a football academy.


SIGNINGS

A subtle combination of mystifying and unsuccessful - but not helped by a board who appear bled dry of any ambition.

Lee Bowyer's capture hinted at imagination, but it smacked of desperation and lack of direction to sign a 36-year-old striker in Les Ferdinand when West Ham's defence is in crisis.

Lee Bowyer's signing was a surprise
Lee Bowyer's signing was a surprise

Where was Roeder when a promising defender such as Matthew Upson was available?

Roeder's previous track record in the market does not stand up to close examination.

David James remains as inconsistent as ever, while Tomas Repka is almost public enemy number one at Upton Park because of his indiscipline.

Don Hutchison has been injured, and while the jury is out on Edouard Cisse, they have packed their bags and left town on Vladimir Labant.


MOTIVATIONAL SKILLS

Not much in evidence this season. Roeder is clearly a decent and dignified man who engenders sympathy, but his admission that he finds it difficult to deliver the "hair-dryer" treatment to his players confirmed many fans' worst fears.

Roeder insists he is a fighter and not a quitter - but does not appear able to inject his players with similar qualities.


PLAYER SUPPORT

If West Ham's players do support Roeder, they have a funny way of showing it.

All the public gestures of support mean nothing when they produce the garbage that was served up at Old Trafford, when every basic rule of football common sense was blatantly ignored.


BOARDROOM SUPPORT

Chairman Terry Brown is the Lord Lucan of the Premiership. He is rarely seen or heard and has been subjected to protests from fans this season.

He has pulled in the purse strings to strangulation point, and while final responsibility rests with Roeder, the Upton Park board's inertia has been almost fatal.


THE FUTURE

Bleak.

Roeder has lost the support of West Ham's fans and the players are not playing for him. They are set on course for relegation and the inevitable meltdown that will bring in terms of player sales.

And yet, there is still enough raw talent in West Ham's squad to stay up if they are in the right hands, organised and motivated. There is still time.

George Graham may be a possible successor
George Graham may be a possible successor

George Graham's name does not set Upton Park alight, but he may be just the man the Hammers need to plot a course for survival - and men of experience like George Burley, Peter Reid and Mick McCarthy are also in the market.

In truth the Hammers board have little option other than to sack Roeder.

Why should he walk away after being given an extended contract in the flush of unexpected success last season?


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