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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 12:19 GMT
Curbishley keen to be a local hero
By Mandeep Sanghera

Alan Curbishley
Curbishley has unfinished business at West Ham

Alan Curbishley could not help getting a little misty eyed as he returned to West Ham to take over the managerial reins.

His association with the Hammers dates back to when he played for the club between 1975-1979 but his sentiment runs deeper than that for a club Curbishley and his family consider their local.

Curbishley cancelled Christmas to end his sabbatical from the game to take up the offer.

But, while he knows that his appointment might look good for the brochure, his associations and affection for the club are not going to make it the dream appointment.

"I'm getting quite emotional now in some respects," said Curbishley at his unveiling at Upton Park's Boleyn headquarters.

"It's come as a complete shock. I had something planned for today and Christmas was all arranged at relatives and now that's totally on hold.

It's a completely new set of cards for me

Alan Curbishley

"It's just happened so quickly but that's the way it was and I think that once they said they wanted me I could not turn them down.

"My wife comes from the Boleyn. That's where she was born. It's a big pull for me - born in Forest Gate, brought up in Canning Town, went to school on the Barking Road and played for the club.

"That's great. It looks great, sounds great but it isn't going to keep us up."

Curbishley established a reputation for being a consummate professional during his 15 years in charge of Charlton and will no doubt detach himself from the emotions surrounding his new job to focus on the task at hand.

He has to save the Upton Park outfit from relegation and, if anything, his desire to make up for the way he left the club as a player under manager John Lyall is set to prove a driving force.

"I had great potential and didn't really fulfil it," he said. "I shouldn't have left. I was young and, perhaps like a few of the players now, was a bit bold and left.

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Alan Curbishley
Curbishley (r) sough the advice of Man Utd boss Ferguson

"I went on to play some of my better football afterwards. If that had been the case here then I would maybe have been at West Ham as long as the Alvin Martins and the like.

"But it wasn't to be and whenever I saw John Lyall I always felt that perhaps I never fulfilled it and let's hope I can do a little bit better as the manager."

Curbishley's first game in charge is against Manchester United on Sunday as he faces the club who were his opponents in his final game in charge of Charlton at The Valley in May before his self-enforced break.

Considering the deep set hold West Ham have upon Curbishley, it was a testament to his loyalty and honour that he turned them down after agreeing to a new contract at Charlton five years ago.

And, while the short-term aim is Premiership survival, Curbishley is relishing the prospect of higher goals in the long-term.

"It's a completely new set of cards for me," he added. "A different situation. This club if it's successful can have a bigger fan base. We know that and that leads to different things."

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