Pards Under Fire - Part Two

IN the final part of his exclusive interview with the Club's Official Website, Alan Pardew tackles the tough questions that fans want to ask. Here he talks candidly about the future of his players, rumours of a rift with Teddy Sheringham and underlines his desire to win promotion with West Ham United.

The supporters have had to witness a lot of the Club's best young stars being sold. Are they likely to see some of the bright young players you have brought in, like Marlon Harewood, Nigel Reo-Coker and Matty Etherington, being transferred in the same way?

We have developed a solid stable of promising young players to work alongside the senior professionals. The young players I brought to the Club have got better and better over the last year. For example, I'd like to think Matty Etherington, a player I inherited, has improved dramatically under my management. The young players are the core of the Club and we cannot afford to let them go. They represent an investment that will bring us dividends given time.

Do you feel under pressure to sell players?

Because of the adjustment to the wage bill we've made in the last 12 months the Club is not under pressure to sell. Our parachute money runs out this season, but I remain confident that we can keep this squad of players together.

Are we likely to see new players come in to strength the squad?

I've always said that squad strengthening is a constantly evolving situation. If the price is right and I feel that I can get a better player for the money that comes in then I'll do my best to do so. As it stands, I could sell just one of the players I've purchased to cover the outlay on every other player I've signed for West Ham United.

There has been speculation of player unrest and talk of a lack of team spirit, in particular regarding rumours of a rift between you and Teddy Sheringham. Is there any truth in these rumours?

The team spirit here has always been strong. There has been no incident or moment when Teddy and I have crossed swords in any way. He's been nothing but a strength for me in terms of the way he has played and his presence around the training ground. Team spirit grows as the season progresses and as the team experiences the highs and lows of the campaign. We are just as strong for the Ipswich Town win as we are for the Sheffield United defeat, and in particular the manner of that defeat.
I only want players at this Club who are totally committed to West Ham United. For example, there were two Junior Hammers Christmas Parties over the holiday period, which threw up hectic match schedules for the players. But we split the squad into two groups and apart from two, every member of the first-team squad attended on one of the two days.
Crystal Palace won promotion last season off the back of tremendous team spirit, which was formed around this stage of the season. We hope to cultivate a similar spirit in our push for promotion over the next few months.

Some pundits and supporters argue that another year in the Championship will benefit West Ham United's long-term future. How is the Club going to move forward over the next year?

We want to get into the Premiership as quickly as possible. The players, supporters and Club as a whole will only benefit from that. We must not set our sights any lower than automatic promotion. It would be unprofessional for us to do so and we'd be doing ourselves and our fans a great disservice. We've proved by winning away at places like Sunderland and Ipswich that we are good enough to beat the top teams in the division. We need to keep our senior players fit, and in turn, they need to stay focused on helping the Club with the short-term challenge of gaining promotion. Meanwhile, our promising young players must continue to develop and perform to their highest level. There will be inconsistencies from them, and we accept that, but as a squad we must start to perform on a more consistent basis. This squad is good and strong enough to win promotion and every one at the Club is focused on achieving that goal as quickly as possible.