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Curbishley relieved as Hammers ease the pressure

SoccerNews in English Premier League 31 Aug 2008


Alan Curbishley admitted he was a relieved man after West Ham's 4-1 win over Blackburn eased the pressure on the Hammers manager.

Curbishley has suffered increasingly vociferous abuse from his own supporters after an erratic start to the campaign. Reports that he had to start winning quickly to save his job only added to the tension around Upton Park.

But Saturday's rout of Rovers lifts the club to their best start in nine years and Curbishley hopes to build on the success.

“It has been a difficult week,” he admitted. “That is down to the defeat at Manchester City, not just the League Cup performance against Macclesfield. I've not heard of fans having a go at a manager after two games before.

“These fans are second to none at times, though when they are not happy they let you know about it. But I'd rather they have a go at me than the players.

“I'm delighted to get this result but everyone in the dressing room knows we can play even better than this.”

The focus was on both managers in this Upton Park encounter, as home supporters have still not forgotten about the way Paul Ince left them as a player almost 20 years ago – when he was pictured in a Manchester United shirt before completing his move.

West Ham raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes thanks to a Calum Davenport header and Mark Noble's cross, which diverted into the net off Blackburn defender Christopher Samba.

Forward Jason Roberts scored for Blackburn on 22 minutes, but then had a penalty saved at full stretch just after half-time by the impressive Robert Green.

Yet injury-time goals from substitute Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole ensured it was a miserable return for Ince.

“It was a disappointing result and not a real reflection of the game for us because we played well,” Ince said. “It's like a circus when I come back here with the reception, but ten or 15 thousand of the supporters here were not even born when the incident happened!

“I still love this club and I am pleased for Alan because this gets people off his back. He is a class man.

“However, we deserved more here and had several chances to score before their goals in injury-time.”

There was further bad news for Ince, as his Paraguayan forward Roque Santa Cruz has an Achilles problem that will rule him out for up to two weeks.

It was Bellamy's goal in the first minute of injury-time for number three killed off Blackburn, but Curbishley is now concerned about his front man.

Bellamy has just returned from a hamstring injury, and played his first 20 minutes of the season here. He will now join up with Wales for international duty.

“I've spoken to John Toshack (the Wales manager) as there is no way he is ready for international football,” Curbishley explained.

“Craig has obviously been out for four weeks with a hamstring injury and 20 minutes was as much as he could play. It was good to have him back and he gives us something different out there.

“Wales will call him up but I hope sense prevails. Ideally we'd like him to train some more. I just think it's a bit early for him.”

The international break now sets in and gives Curbishley a chance to relax a little before he heads to West Bromwich Albion on September 13.


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