West Ham: Roeder keeps his cool

Glenn Roeder readily acknowledges that he was not the first choice to succeed Harry Redknapp as manager of West Ham last summer and there were many who predicted he might not be there long.

Those claims looked uncomfortably close to being fulfilled as the Hammers conceded 12 goals in two successive away games, being thrashed 7-1 at Blackburn and 5-0 at Everton.

But the way he took those setbacks in his stride and emerged from those dark autumn days to mould a side which finished the season in seventh place in the Premiership speak volumes for Roeder and the quiet, but strong, manner he brought to the pressure-cooker intensity of life as a top-line manager.

He would be fully entitled to turn round and throw what was an undoubted success for a team not considered one of the glamour outfits right back in the faces of the critics.

But that is not his style. "I'm not the sort of person to go round sticking my fingers up at people," he says.

Criticism from a couple of people in the game really hurt but Roeder said: "I just tried to keep my head down and get on with the job, have tunnel vision. If I'd listened to everyone's opinions I wouldn't have been keeping my eye on the ball."

It was that ability not to over-react to setbacks and victories alike - and the way he speculated well with limited transfer funds - which transformed West Ham's season.

The directors were rewarded for backing the manager when many were urging them to sack him and they, in turn, showed their appreciation by rewarding Roeder with a richly-deserved new three-year contract.

Not that he had revealed that his initial deal was only for 12 months when he moved in for last summer's trio of £5 million signings, David James, Don Hutchison and Tomas Repka.

They didn't ask and Roeder was happy not to attract any possible complications.

"The players weren't aware I was just on a one-year contract but I think they are more comfortable now because it gives us some form of stability," he said.

James, who missed more than three months at the start of the season after injuring his knee in England's summer friendly with Holland, and the deeply-committed Czech Republic central defender Repka proved inspired signings while Hutchison's season came to a premature end with a cruciate ligament injury which could keep him out until Christmas.

But it was the way he has brought along Joe Cole, who went to the World Cup finals, and Michael Carrick, who also made his full international debut after playing a major role with the England Under-21 side, and maintained his resolve not to rush teenage striking predator Jermain Defoe which have marked out Roeder as a manager of quality for the future.

He knows that his trio of young stars are the key to a possible golden era at West Ham, rivalling the days of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, but is mindful of the need to blend in the right sort of experienced players to build a team around them.

That is the challenge Roeder, with limited resources, is happy to meet, the part of the job he enjoys, because he is far more at home coaching and moulding his side than sitting behind the manager's desk.

"The office work has to be done and there seems to be more and more of that. You seem to spend half your life on the telephone but I like being on the training ground working with the players," he says.

Roeder did not even apply for the vacancy when Redknapp, who had given him his West Ham coaching opportunity, left last summer.

"I have never applied for a manager's job since leaving Watford. After Glenn Hoddle gave me the chance to work with him and the players in the England set-up, I decided I wanted to work with the highest quality of players I could," he said.

He still does not feel that a seventh-place finish has yet entitled him to membership of the Premiership managerial establishment.

"I'm just starting out at this level. You never stop learning and I like listening to experienced managers and learning from their experiences. There is nothing wrong in using what has worked for them.

"I'm honoured to be given the opportunity and honoured to be given a three-year contract but I won't be resting on my laurels. There is still a lot of hard work to be done."

Whatever success it brings, don't expect Glenn Roeder to shout about it.

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