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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
West Ham's biggest gamble
Glenn Roeder at Watford
Glenn Roeder had mixed fortunes as Watford boss
BBC Sport Online's Stuart Roach suggests West Ham are taking a major gamble with the appointment of Glenn Roeder as manager.

West Ham fans are not exactly alone in raising a collective eyebrow at the appointment of Glenn Roeder as the new Hammers manager.

Roeder's appointment surprised many - not least the new boss himself.

  Glenn Roeder factfile
1955: Born in Woodford, Essex.
1974: Signed for Leyton Orient as an apprentice.
1984: Moved to Newcastle United, making 193 appearances.
1992: Joined Gillingham as player. August: Appointed Gills manager.
1993: Sacked by the Kent club after losing 22 of 35 games in charge. August: Given Watford manager's job.
1996: Shown the exit door at Vicarage Road.
1999: Appointed coach at Upton Park.

After all, Roeder didn't even apply for the post, a reluctance which suggests his expectations were hardly sky-high.

You can't blame him for that, after what can most politely be described as a modest record in club management.

At Gillingham, he lost 22 of his 35 games in charge, though the other 13 matches produced enough points to save the Gills from dropping into the Conference.

His second bite of the managerial apple was also far from sweet, his two full seasons in charge of Watford producing mid-table finishes before he left midway through the third year with the Hornets rooted to the foot of the First Division.

Taking his past record into account, it is fair to say West Ham's appointment of Roeder constitutes a gamble of huge proportions.

Favour from Redknapp

The local boy, who marched confidently through playing spells at Orient, QPR and Newcastle, was unemployed and looking for a break when Harry Redknapp offered him a route back into the game two years ago.

"I took him on to do a bit of coaching and help with the reserves," Redknapp recalled.

It is the kind of favour you offer to an ageing friend who is down on his luck, but the job was Roeder's golden ticket.

Two years later, Redknapp's surprise departure handed Roeder an opportunity he could hardly have dreamed of.

In contrast to his managerial disppointments, Roeder has a successful track record as a coach.

Glenn Hoddle (left) and Glenn Roeder
Glenn Hoddle (left) helps Roeder cuts his coaching teeth

Highly regarded in the field, he was part of Glenn Hoddle's England coaching team and his footballing ambitions were in coaching and not management.

But when West Ham asked who wanted the job, Roeder appeared to be the only man with his hand in the air.

Initially he was reluctant to ask for his chance, fearing the loss of his coaching job if a caretaker spell failed.

Steve McClaren was a target but chose to join Middlesbrough instead. Then, with a twist of the knife, he insisted he would have chosen Southampton ahead of West Ham.

Alan Curbishley had been their first choice, but he promptly threw them off his tail by signing a new contract with Charlton.

So Roeder wasn't so much the soft option as the only option.

At least the fans can cling to the fact that this is an internal appointment. Tried and tested at Anfield, the Upton Park boot room may yet throw forward an uncut diamond.

Lampard ready to leave

He can also boast that he was the manager who plucked striker Kevin Phillips from non-league obscurity during his reign as Watford boss.

But Roeder's record in the transfer market will be viewed with mixed reactions.

His biggest achievement at Watford was a 5.5m profit in transfer dealings, helped largely by Phillips' departure to Sunderland.

It was a statistic which delighted the then-chairman Jack Petchey and which helped to pay for two new stands at Vicarage Road.

His first job as Hammers boss will be to complete the exportation of 11m midfield asset Frank Lampard.

No fan can fault him for that, but if he fails to persuade Paolo Di Canio from following Lampard and Rio Ferdinand out of the Upton Park door marked 'exit' then Roeder will be facing an uphill battle.

It remains to be seen how much of the combined Lampard-Ferdinand windfall Roeder will have to play with.

The West Ham board has already taken one major gamble. They may just sit on their pile of cash for a little while longer before taking another.

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