Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

West Ham in Danger but Curbishley Is Safe

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

West Ham in Danger but Curbishley Is Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

ALAN CURBISHLEY retains the full backing of West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson despite speculation his job his under threat. The 1-0 defeat to Watford, the Premiership's bottom club, means Curbishley haswon just one of his 10 league matches succeeding Alan Pardew in mid-December.

The result raises the chances that the Upton Park club will be relegated along with Watford and Charlton, an unmitigated disaster for Magnusson and his Icelandic consortium who invested [pounds sterling]83million in the takeover.

Magnusson, who missed Saturday's defeat, has already demonstrated he is not afraid of making tough decisions by sacking Pardew within a few weeks of his arrival.

He has, however, developed a close working relationship with Curbishley in the last two months, especially during the January transfer window when both men worked diligently to try and improve the squad.

Neither Curbishley nor Magnusson is ready to throw in the towel but both now recognise the distinct possibility West Ham will be playing in the Championship next season.

Magnusson has already revealed the club have prepared a contingency plan for such an eventuality and that he will continue to invest in the squad even if the worst happens.

Curbishley has come under increasing scrutiny in recent matches but has denied rumours all is not well in the dressing-room.

West Ham's cause has been blighted by injury. Striker Dean Ashton, for example, was supposed to be back in action following his broken ankle in January but has still not returned to any significant training.

Even if he is able to step up his recovery programme this week, it is unlikely he will be ready for a return until the end of next month at the earliest.

Lucas Neill has endured a wretched time since his move from Blackburn last month having to leave the pitch through injury in his first two games for West Ham.

On his debut the Australia defender damaged ankle ligaments and against

Watford on Saturday, he injured his knee. Neill was having a scan today but indications were he could be out for several weeks. …

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