Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Drag Hammers out of Bottom Three, Says Wally; EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Drag Hammers out of Bottom Three, Says Wally; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Julian Bennetts

WHEN Maxi Rodriguez headed Liverpool's third goal past Robert Green in the 38th minute at Anfield last Saturday, Wally Downes was one of very few people in the stadium whose thoughts weren't drifting towards how West Ham would cope with life in the Championship next season.

Instead, the former Brentford manager was realising the magnitude of the task he had just signed up to as the new Hammers defensive coach. Downes is a surprise appointment, perhaps, given that Avram Grant and a former member of Wimbledon's Crazy Gang hardly seem natural bedfellows, but he might be exactly what's needed down in the east end.

Certainly, the season could hardly have gone any worse so far for the club. One win from 14 Premier League games has left them five points adrift of safety and at the bottom of the table. That has led the Hammers board to dub tomorrow's visit of Wigan the 'Save our Season' game, with ticket prices being lowered in a bid to fill Upton Park.

A total of 25 goals conceded tells its own story but, as Downes is swift to point out, that visit to Anfield which saw visiting fans heading for the exit well before half-time could prove to be the nadir of an awful 2010. With a squad packed full of Premier League experience, he is not about to encourage the doom-merchants in east London.

"If people start handing out medals in November, I would be the first in the queue," said Downes, who began work at Upton Park yesterday. "But they don't and the same goes for teams being relegated. The conclusion people have drawn that West Ham are already down is completely wrong.

"I have been looking at videos of the team and I think they have lost nine points from winning positions since September. That shows me the ability in the squad is there but maybe one or two people need a confidence boost and need to remember how to close out games. …

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