Curbs: My delight at coming home

Alan Curbishley has admitted that his love for West Ham United persuaded him to make a return to football management.

The 49-year-old, who spent four years at Upton Park as a first team player between 1975 and 1979 after progressing through the Club's youth ranks, signed a three-and-a-half year deal on Wednesday afternoon to become the 11th manager in our history, and revealed just how much it meant to him to be back at his spiritual home.

"I'm delighted to be back at West Ham United," said Alan. "I've got fond memories of my time here as a player, and now I'm looking forward to the challenge as manager.

"If you'd said to me 27 years ago that I would be coming back here as a manager, I'd have said it was unbelievable. But that is the position I am in now, a young boy from Canning Town, coming back to be manager, and I can't wait for the challenge ahead.

"I spoke to a few people because it's not the situation I envisaged going into a club - mid-stream and in a difficult position. But because it is this club it changed my mind."

The new Hammers boss will face Manchester United in his first game in charge, at Upton Park on Sunday afternoon, and revealed that his good friend and counterpart this weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson, had offered some welcome advice.

"I actually spoke to Sir Alex earlier in the week and I said: 'West Ham, they're third from bottom'. He said that, 20 years ago, Manchester United were as well when he took over.

"He was very complimentary about West Ham and told me that what I have is an opportunity to go into a club and be successful."

Alan is certainly under no illusion about the size of the task that faces him, though, and he insisted that short term ambition will be the order of the day as he begins his reign at Upton Park.

"We find ourselves in a difficult position, and the quicker we get out of it, the better," he said. "That's what the focus is on - if we can push ourselves out of that area and into the top half of the table, we can enjoy the rest of the season and begin to build for the future.

"You cannot take the Premiership for granted. Teams like Watford and Sheffield United will take a defeat then come in on Monday morning looking forward to the next game because it is all new, all fresh, and everyone is aggressive about it.

"Last season West Ham had that newly-promoted hunger. They were galvanised by the fans, which they still are, and we have to recapture that. We have got to get it back quickly and start winning some games."

by Danny Francis