Glenn On Fear Factor

Glenn Roeder says that fear can be put to positive use as West Ham look to get out of the bottom three before the end of the season.

And he agrees with a recent comment made by former Upton Park boss John Lyall in The Guardian to the journalist Roy Collins, where John says: "It's easy for people to make that bold statement about players lacking commitment but sometimes it is not a lack of commitment, it is fear, and those two words go well together.

"It's fear of the unknown, fear of wondering just how much worse things can get and when that happens, even good players can look bad because everything they do becomes deliberate, instead of flowing."

The comment, in a piece published on January 28th following the heavy defeat at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, was the first time John has spoken to a newspaper about any of his successors - or even first team matters at West Ham - since the aftermath of his departure from the club in 1989.

"That is a typical John Lyall statement that is very accurate. It is a fine dividing line but something that, as individuals, we have to overcome," agrees Glenn.

"The owner of Fiat died recently, Signor Agnelli, at 81 and he had a saying in his life that fear is acceptable for men to have - but what is not acceptable is to show it.

"In other words he is saying you have to look the same from the outside whether you have fear or no fear in your body, and that is right.

"It is important that people realise it is okay to have fear but you don't show it.

"There is also an argument that certain types of fear drive a man to great heights, so there is always a counter argument.

"But I agree with what John says. Fear can sap your energy and when you are fearful you lack energy, but there is also a fear that makes you go above and beyond what you normally can.

"I remember one particular summer's evening knocking around a railway as a kid, which you weren't supposed to do, I looked behind and saw three or four railway police creeping up the side of the track to jump up and grab the five or six kids who were about 11 or 12, mucking around.

"I shot up that bank like I never sprinted before in my life, and there was a fence that would normally take me a couple of minutes to get up and over, but I was over there in three or four strides - and I was never able to do that again.

"The only thing that got me up that fence so quickly was because I was scared - it is really an adrenalin rush.

"When you have an adrenalin rush, it is linked to fear, and you perform above what you are normally capable of doing.

"It is very hard, say, to have a practice match at the training ground and get the tempo you get at Upton Park."

In the article, John also said: "I know what Glenn is going through and he knows he needs help from the players.

"I would hope they understand his position, too.

"The fans can get at you, which you accept, but from my knowledge of West Ham fans, the majority are willing you to get it right.

"The good thing for Glenn is that the club's position is far from impossible: a couple of wins on the trot and they will be well on their way to safety.

"The rest of your life turns away in this situation because you are thinking about football 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"What should help is that it is clear Glenn cares about West Ham, he is a local lad and not some mercenary who has been brought in.

"There is a deep-rooted loyalty in the East End of London and they will realise how much he is giving to the cause."

And Glenn responds: "It is a question now of proving to our supporters that we want to remain in the Premiership and we will do that in the manner in which we play these games - we have to make a statement of our intentions - and if blood has to be spilled it has to be spilled."

Some newspapers claimed last month that Glenn was 'afraid' to give the players a dressing down, but he insists his thoughts were misinterpreted.

"They came from an angle that I didn't like to be verbally severe with the players but what I said was - and I will repeat it now - if you go into verbal abuse every time you don't get a good performance, players switch off very quickly," he explains.

"They don't listen, it has no effect whatsoever, and quite honestly when you analyse what you said it doesn't make a lot of sense.

"I have played for too many managers that would shout and scream every time there was a poor performance and I would drive home thinking 'what they said didn't make one bit of sense to me - they've lost the plot'.

"But I also believe there are certain situations where a short sharp burst of constructive criticism where we were lacking something in any particular game is very important, and it has the desired effect.

"At Old Trafford after the cup game was one of those occasions, and I haven't got a problem handing those out when they are needed."

Of course, Manchester United have been in the news this week with David Beckham getting a cut eye following a dressing room incident after their game with Arsenal at the weekend.

While not commenting on what may or may not have happened between Beckham and his manager, Glenn says: "Sir Alex Ferguson is a master of the man management side of the game as well as being tactically astute - he has got all the facets of being the top manager that he is, whether it is judgment of a player's ability, man management, or the tactical side.

"They are basically the three elements of managing, and Dave Sexton, who I have got great admiration for, told me that the night before I took the player manager's job at Gillingham.

"He said he had never come across all three but had seen plenty who had two of the three and been incredibly successful.

"He has proved to me that what he said was absolutely right - and I can't think of a fourth facet."

Glenn showed he had the bottle to battle in his first managerial appointment at Gillingham, when he won the fight against relegation, and he recalls: "If the club had gone down it would have sunk into the Conference and had to have gone part time - and that season certainly taught me the pressures of management at the wrong part of the table.

"We were cut away at the bottom with five points to make on the next team when I took over and we knew we were going to be in it for the long haul.

"It was a young, small squad, but the one thing about those young boys, and it is very much the same there at the moment, they wore their badge with pride.

"They fought hard, and some of those players went on to better things and played in higher divisions. There was a great camaraderie amongst the players and they fought for each other like tigers to close that five point gap.

"When I look back on those nine months it wasn't very enjoyable at the time because of the pressure of keeping the team in the league but it was very satisfying that Saturday evening after we beat Halifax to stay up.

"I was at Gillingham some seven or eight years ago but the world has moved on rapidly.

"It was part of my learning curve for nine months but, as people often get wrong, I left of my own accord, much to the disappointment of the Gillingham supporters because I completed my mission having taken over in October when we were five points adrift, looking over our shoulders at the Conference league.

"With two games to go we secured our Football League status, and I was very happy to stay there for the following season, except in the close season Jack Petchey, the owner of Watford, head hunted me if you want to take over at Watford, because Steve Perryman had left to go to and work with Ossie Ardiles at Spurs.

"If Steve had stayed at Watford I would have been very happy to stay at Gillingham, but the supporters never really forgave me for what they thought was walking out on them.

"The view I took was that it was being ambitious and an opportunity to improve my position up into the first division after completing the goal successfully of keeping Gillingham in the Football League.

"In the Gillingham case it actually gave the coach the chance to become the manager because he decided to stay there, so no one lost their job by me moving to Watford.

"In fact there was a job created because the new manager took on a new coach, and it was all part of the learning curve.

"But that bears no relevance to how the football world has changed since then - and we are now in a period of change again, huge financial change.

"It is going to be massive; the wind is blowing in a different direction - and it is a very strong wind."