Galey's View

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert view on recent events at Upton Park, exclusively on

"It's certainly been an eventful week down at Upton Park and, once the managerial position became vacant on Monday afternoon, I think we all knew deep down that there was only one man who could come in to fill the role.

"I personally believe that if Alan Curbishley had taken the job five years ago, he would still be in charge now and, more notably, the Club wouldn't have suffered relegation or the problems that followed.

"However, that isn't relevant now - the important thing is that he has finally arrived. I hope now that Alan goes on to have a long reign as manager, and brings some long-term stability to the Club, in the same way he did at Charlton.

"I've got to be honest, I don't really think the Charlton supporters appreciated Alan during his last few years at The Valley, and they are realising this season what a fantastic job he did in keeping them away from relegation problems and, basically, turning them into a secure Premiership club.

"Right now, that is what West Ham United need to achieve, and Alan will know what is needed. There was a lot of talk in the summer about how we should improve on our ninth place finish and achieve more success, but all that matters now is retaining our top flight status.

"As I've said before, there is such a fine dividing line between the teams outside the top four in the Premiership - Everton have proved that you can be right up there one year and struggling at the bottom the next.

"Maybe the expectation among everyone at the start of the season was a bit too much. The aim really should have been the same as it was when we were promoted - to fight for as many points as early as possible to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

"I saw a lot of Charlton when I worked for Capital Radio and, I've got to admit, it wasn't the most entertaining or attractive football to watch at times, but Alan did what he had to do to keep his team in the Premiership, and that is just what we need right now.

"The difference is that, once he gets West Ham into that position of safety, he will have a better opportunity to take the Club to the next level than he had at Charlton. Although Alan would never be detrimental to his former club, I'm sure he feels that he is now in a position where he will have that chance to kick on and test himself against the very best.

"It's also good to see Mervyn Day return - it was a fairly expected move, because he has worked so well with Alan - and Keith Peacock - over a long period of time. More importantly, Alan trusts Mervyn and Keith, and that is so vital in football.

"Both Alan and Mervyn were lucky enough to learn their trade under Ron Greenwood and John Lyall, and you can see the influence that those men have had on both during their coaching careers.

"They say that football has changed, but the basics haven't changed at all, and the principals that Alan Curbishley picked up from Ron and John are the reason that Charlton was such a well-run and disciplined club. He will bring those qualities to West Ham now.

"Looking forward to Sunday's game, I've got to be completely honest and say that it isn't the most ideal fixture for Alan's first game, but on the other hand it is a fantastic opportunity to really get off to the best start possible.

"If he'd wanted to, Alan could probably have taken the easy route and avoided Sunday's game by not actually taking over until Monday, but that clearly wasn't an option to him and I am sure he will be relishing the opportunity to go up against his good friend Sir Alex Ferguson.

"In many ways, it is a no-lose situation for him. We are not expected to beat the league leaders, and a point would be a fantastic result. For me, though, it's not so much the result that will under scrutiny, more the performance.

"As long as the players show the fight and spirit that was missing in those last two matches against Wigan and Bolton, the fans will get behind them straight away, and that is a key factor going into four very winnable matches over the Christmas period."