Welcome to the second and final part of our exclusive question and answer session with Alan Pardew, in which the Hammers boss replies to more of your emails.
All supporters who submitted a question were entered into a
prize draw, and congratulations go to Diane Keleghar, of
East Ham, who was picked out of the hat first and wins a
Hammers shirt personally signed by the entire first team squad...
When playing, did you always have aspirations to become a manager?
As a player, I always felt that I wasn't managed particularly well and that, when I went into games, I wasn't quite sure if the message was strong enough. So I thought it was an area I could exploit, in terms of preparing players and teams, not just physically but mentally aswell. I always had an eye on it, I started coaching at around the age of 27, so I've been at it a long time now. I always had leadership characteristics - I'm sure Steve Coppell just used to take me as a sub because I could shout and holler a bit in the dressing-room! But I always had the feeling I could offer something on that side.
Who are your heroes, professionally and personally?
Muhammad Ali would be a hero of mine, not just because of his sporting endeavours but also because of the mark he made on history in all aspects of his life. Norman Foster, the famous architect, is also a hero, because of the success he has had, his imagination, and his strong views on how things should be done. I'd certainly like to meet him one day.
On the football side, it would be easy for me to say Bobby Moore, simply because he was the type of player and person that everybody admires, but my heroes growing up were Pele first of all, then Johann Cruyff, and then Diego Maradona. All big personalities who just had that magic aura about them. I love watching Ronaldinho now, even when he isn't on top form. I just love that type of character, desire and will to win combined with flair, skill and an appreciation for the beauty of the game.
If you could sign any player in the world right now, who would it be?
Without a shadow of a doubt, it would the guy I've just mentioned. The entertainment factor and the way he affects the game is unquestionable and we are very lucky to have a player of that ability currently playing in his pomp and prime. When you look at the World Cup stage this summer, he is the one man that all the others are going to have to stop.
If you could change one existing rule or add one new rule to radically improve the game of football, what would it be?
I think one thing that might need to be considered at some point is for the smaller pitches to be eradicated, and the playing dimensions increased to a universal size. The fitness levels of the players have reached such proportions now that perhaps a larger playing area will make a bit more space and lead to more goals.
Some of the pitches now are big - Manchester City's for example - and it would be interesting to see how the game would go if all pitches had to be that size. It's harder to defend on a pitch that size and, for a team like ourselves that possess a lot of pace and power, we like big pitches. In the past we've seen teams change the size of their pitch for tactical reasons at various stages of the season. Now there is a rule that states your pitch has to remain the same size throughout the season, but it would take another directive from FIFA to force all clubs to mark their pitch to a standard size.
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In my opinion, West Ham currently have the best left side in the Premiership. Why do you think that the England manager has not included Paul Konchesky or Matty Etherington in any of his World Cup plans so far?
It's certainly an area that is open for discussion. Throughout the season, they have been tremendous and that combination down the left has created space and opportunity for our strikers, and also allowed Yossi on the right to enjoy more space.
Not only do they produce, they also occupy the opposition, and it has gone unrewarded so far in my opinion, in terms of the England side. But that is all strength to us, because they haven't got the time and pull of the national team.
So there is part of me that wants them to be involved in that, and the kudos it would bring to the club, but part of me wants to be selfish and let them stay here.
Have you always stood in the technical area during a game or did you use to sit in the dug-out?
I have sat down in the past, but it's usually when I'm not very happy! If I sit down, it's either because things are not going very well at all, or they are going so well that I don't need to say anything. I actually remember sitting down towards the end of the play-off final last year and thinking: 'We've won.' I just felt we had it all under control and that the players knew exactly how to handle the situation they were in. So it's only in extreme moments that I sit down.
After a match, do you go home and watch it all over again on video?
I generally don't analyse games that we have played. The ProZone facility enables me to take the information I need very quickly, and I like to stick with my gut instinct anyway. You can easily get bogged down with statistics and replaying negative issues, so I generally go with my initial feeling when reflecting on our performances. I always like to take something positive from the game, and give the players a positive message.
Can you explain why the players no longer sign autographs at the Chadwell Heath training ground?
Myself and the players are very disappointed that we have had to stop signing autographs at the training ground, but there are three reasons that have forced us to take that step. One is the access in the road and the congestion that is causes, which has led to complaints from residents - and rightly so, because it is a residential area. Secondly, we have had people exploiting the situation. The same faces, every day, bringing more and more items for the players to sign, which we know are ending up on the internet or not being used in an appropriate manner. Their argument is that they have a living to make, but I'm afraid I don't agree with that. And finally, we now have a system in place that ensures we can fulfil the requests of genuine supporters. Every day after training, the players sign items that are sent in to the Club, some of which are simple requests from supporters, others that are for charitable or worthy causes. We certainly don't believe that we are above signing autographs for people, and the players go out of their way to sign for genuine supporters. Sadly, though, the sale of autographs on the internet has become a big issue and we feel that this is the only way to manage the problem.