Curbs knows what's wanted

Alan Curbishley is leading the charge for the 2008/09 campaign and is looking to continue the season on season growth at the club.

A 15th-placed finish in 2006/07, when relegation seemed inevitable upon taking over midway through, followed by a jump of five places to finish tenth last time around have fuelled optimism of taking the next step this time around. It has been an encouraging summer. Not only are are some of his key recruits of a year ago firmly in contention - such as Julien Faubert and Scott Parker - several youngsters have been secured on long-term deals, the acquisition of Valon Behrami has added strength and versatility and Dean Ashton pledged his future after making the step up for England.

"I have a responsibility," the manager said when asked about his aspirations for the future. "There are traditions at West Ham that everyone knows and I was brought up on them myself. Last year we were in a position where we were  patched up a lot of times, which we didn't always get credit for, and most would agree it was a bit difficult at times. We accepted the criticism, we didn't just forget about it, and we want to do better. We won't shut ourselves off to the criticism, but we want to win games. Play better and do better."


Curbishley is obviously hoping for a winning start against Wigan Athletic but he is equally looking for "a good performance" to set the team up for the next few weeks. "I look at the first eight games. By the time you've got through those you can roughly see where you are as the tone has been set. If you've had a poor start then you're playing catch-up, if you've had a good start you can afford a couple of bad results and still stay there. The first game is important but the first eight is what we really look at."

The manager knows that Wigan will be "looking for a bit more this year" after their 14th-placed finish last time and added that his players will know what to expect from Steve Bruce's men. Whoever they face though, the squad are definitely looking to do better in the new season. "We have to be attacking those spots above us. In some seasons those European spots go down to seventh. If that's the case we have to hope we're around that and maybe a bit better ... we had a couple of chances last year which we didn't take."