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The Footballers" Football Column – Alan Curbishley:

ALAN CURBISHLEY: The pressure of a relegation battle is huge… you're playing to keep the dinner lady and groundsman in jobs – as well as themselves

PUBLISHED:

07:19 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League – yet he has been out of work for more than four years. After 15 years and 729 games managing Charlton he decided to leave for a new challenge. That came in 2006 when he took over at a struggling West Ham. He kept the Hammers in the Premier League on the final day of the season against Manchester United at OId Trafford. In his debut Footballers' Football Column Curbishley writes about the pressures of a relegation battle and who he believes will go down this season. He also discusses his desire to return to the dug-out after his long absence. Before you read his column, make sure you watch his video.

Alan Curbishley: Footballers' Football column

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I feel for all the managers who are fighting relegation this season because I know how tough it is. There are so many different pressures being a Premier League manager and even more so when you are in a relegation battle.

The main pressure is the finances. You’re aware that if you get relegated you can lose up to 70 per cent of your income.

And if that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking about not just the players and the staff, but the ordinary people at the football club, the people who work in the restaurants and at the training ground. People whose livelihoods depend of the job and when there are cutbacks after relegation, they’re often the first people that take the hit.

Nigel Adkins

Harry Redknapp

Paul Lambert

Roberto Martinez

Tough times: Nigel Adkins, Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez are all feeling the pressure

So you’ve got the financial pressure, the pressure on yourself, because obviously you don’t want to be associated with relegation, and you know that it could be a long way back for the football club if that happens.

And then it’s the fans and the press and the media that seem to thrive on every bad moment. So there’s loads of different pressures going on, and I’ve not even mentioned the football, but you’ve got to be aware of all that and it takes its toll.

Every situation is different and it all depends how long you’ve been in that struggle for, if you’ve been in that all season it does take its toll and you do have to go game by game. You’re just hoping for that one match, that one thing that turns it around and starts giving people confidence.

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But then there are the other clubs who feel safe and suddenly drop into it the last few games and they’re not used to that pressure, they’re not used to playing under than intense scrutiny and you can’t cope with it.

Sometimes the club that stays up is the battle-hardened one, who has been in it most of the season and just manages to get out of it near the end before the trap-door closes and that’s it.

When you are down there you look for positives but in reality there’s nothing better than winning a game. I’ve often thought, ‘What comes first – confidence winning you matches, or winning matches giving you confidence’

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get a win, as long as you’ve gone and got the three points on the Saturday, you know it can change the whole atmosphere around the club.

If you are down there then you have got to try different things to turn your fortunes around. Look back to last season, Wigan looked doomed.

But then Roberto Martinez switched his defence to three at the back and gave them a bit more stability, they won a couple of games 1-0 and suddenly the confidence was there, they went on a terrific run until the end of the season and stayed up.

Players react differently when they are in a relegation battle. Some players are affected by it, you know they are good players but they are struggle being in that position.

But then other players thrive on it and can handle it. When you’re in that battle you like to look around the dressing room and perhaps look at six or seven players, or even eight, and know what you’re going to get. Because unless that amount of players are performing you’re not going to win anything.

A relegation battle is tough for everyone and I certainly did not enjoy it. When I went into West Ham they were third from bottom, 14 points from 17 games, and so you know, even if you start taking a point a game, you’re going to be involved in it for the rest of the season. Anything better than that is European form.

I knew when I went into West Ham we had to get out of it quickly and we didn’t. Obviously we stayed in it and with 10 games to go we were doomed, but we got a bit of luck. We won a game at Blackburn where we scored a goal that never went over the line, and suddenly it changed.

We picked up the next result, the team selection was consistent, which it hadn’t been before I was at the club, and along with that came a bit of belief.

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

We won seven of our last nine games. Look at who we played – Arsenal, Everton, Bolton who were in a European position, Middlesbrough, who were just outside of European spots, and then the last game of the season at Manchester United.

What I remember about that game at Old Trafford is that nine of the players who played in that game were at the club before I arrived, so it got me thinking, and it’s what I thought all along, the players had the ability, so why were they in the position they were in

I had players in that run-in playing with so much confidence and doing things I couldn’t imagine they could’ve done weeks before. Consistent team selection helped, and results, and obviously the fans.

Often people talk about Tevez, but he hadn’t scored for 20 games before that. We kept five clean sheets, Robert Green was fantastic, Bobby Zamora scored two fantastic winning goals when we won 1-0 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Everton, but the fans played a massive part.

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley

Contrasting emotions: Alan Curbishley shows the strains of West Ham's relegation battle and celebrates staying up on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

One of the games was Wigan away where I
think we took more fans than Wigan had there, it was just incredible, we
just responded and won 3-0 there and that was the first time, after
that game that I felt, ‘We’re going to do this’.

I look at the teams down there at the moment, and Wigan especially, is it finally their year They’ve survived so many times in the last games of the season. And I’ve just got a feeling this FA Cup run is going to cause them a problem; they’re a game behind the rest of the league at the moment, when they play their semi-final they’re possibly going to be two games behind.

If they get to the final they’re going to have to make up at least two or three games when there are only eight games left.

It’s going to take an emotional toll, we’ve seen it before with teams getting to a cup final and going down, I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too much for them. They’ve still got to win games. Having games in hand is nice, but you’ve got to win them.

When I look at the table I think Reading, QPR and Wigan are the three who are going to go down.

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

I think the timing for Reading to sack Brian McDermott was poor. December is traditionally the vulnerable time for managers as the chairman will think, ‘If I bring a new man in, he’s got to have a chance to bring some new faces in and change it around a little bit.’

But history has shown that no club in the bottom three who have changed their manager in March have managed to survive.

But when you consider whatever the compensation involved in letting McDermott go, the prize, if
they do manage to turn it around, is massive. You’re talking 60-70million, so I can see why they’ve done it.

But I think most people in football would look at it and think, ‘Perhaps if you’d have done it earlier then you might have had a better chance’.

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Poor timing: Curbishley says it was the wrong time for Reading to sack McDermott (left) and get Adkins

All managers in football, especially in the Premier League, who find themselves down the bottom, know that if they don’t pick up results soon they’re in trouble. I just think that this was so late in the day.

I have not worked in management since I left West Ham in 2008, but my exile has been self-inflicted. When I left West Ham I felt they were in the wrong and I was in the right, and it took its time to be sorted out and that was detrimental to me.

But I’ve had opportunities to come back in and maybe I’ve been a bit too picky. Perhaps the advice to managers that have been out of the game would be to get back in as quickly as possible, because you are easily forgotten.

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

I’m still the sixth most experienced Premier League manager and I haven’t worked for some time now. It goes Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce then myself, so I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.

But someone’s got to be attracted by my record, and, not take a gamble, but I only really want to come back in the Premier League and that is difficult. I’d like a Premier League job. Certainly if it was a Championship club it’s got to be one I think is going to go somewhere.

I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment, and there’s a lot less pressure. But if anyone wants to look at my record it stands up with the best of them, so we’ll have to see.

Mick McCarthy confirmed new Ipswich manager

McCarthy targets Premier League return after penning deal to take over at Ipswich

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UPDATED:

09:28 GMT, 1 November 2012

Mick McCarthy has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal to take over as Ipswich Town's new manager.

McCarthy had been keen to make a return to the game after being sacked by Wolves back in February and the former Republic of Ireland manager revealed he was delighted to follow Paul Jewell, who left the club last week, into the hot seat at Portman Road.

'I’m obviously delighted to have been given the job as Ipswich Town manager and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead,' said McCarthy in a statement.

Back in business: Mick McCarthy is set to be named as new manager of Ipswich

Back in business: Mick McCarthy has been named as new manager of Ipswich

'It’s a fantastic football club, with a proud tradition and history and a terrific fanbase. While the long term ambition is to take the club back into the Premier League, it’s clear that the first priority is to get some confidence back into the team and start climbing the table.'

Town chief executive Simon Clegg added: 'I am delighted to welcome Mick and Terry to Portman Road.

'We are under no illusions of the challenge ahead for this Club given our position in the table but we feel we have the right manager to lead that challenge.

Bad start: The Tractor Boys are rooted to the foot of the Championship table

Bad start: The Tractor Boys are rooted to the foot of the Championship table

'Mick has a wealth of knowledge in the game and has shown that he knows how to compete successfully in the Championship in his time at both Sunderland and Wolves.

'While the first task is to guide the Club away from our current position, we believe Mick has all the credentials and drive to eventually bring success back to Ipswich Town.'

Ipswich are currently bottom of the Championship and have gone 12 games without a win.

Bad run: Ipswich sunk to bottom of the table under Paul Jewell

Sacked: Ipswich sank fast under Paul Jewell, who lost his job last week

Both Alan Curbishley and Alan Shearer were also linked with the position, but the Ipswich board felt McCarthy is the right choice to revive the club's fortunes and hope he can steer the club away from the danger zone.

McCarthy will take charge of his first game when Ipswich face Birmingham on Saturday.

Mick McCarthy to be named new Ipswich manager

Mick's back! McCarthy lands Ipswich job and charged with leading Tractor Boys to safety

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UPDATED:

19:01 GMT, 30 October 2012

Mick McCarthy is set to be named as the new Ipswich Town manager.

McCarthy has been keen to make a return to the game after being sacked by Wolves back in February and was strongly linked with the Nottingham Forest job during the summer.

The former Republic of Ireland manager was the favourite to take over from Paul Jewell who left the club last week.

Back in business: Mick McCarthy is set to be named as new manager of Ipswich

Back in business: Mick McCarthy is set to be named as new manager of Ipswich

Ipswich are currently bottom of the Championship and have gone 12 games without a win.

Both Alan Curbishley and Alan Shearer were also linked with the position, but the Ipswich board feel McCarthy is the right choice to revive the club's fortunes and hope he can steer the club away from the danger zone.

McCarthy is set to take charge of his first game when Ipswich face Birmingham on Saturday.

Bad run: Ipswich sunk to bottom of the table under Paul Jewell

Bad run: Ipswich sunk to bottom of the table under Paul Jewell

Alan Shearer to Ipswich would be a big risk – John Edwards

Chasing Shearer a big risk by Ipswich's mystery man Evans

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UPDATED:

11:08 GMT, 26 October 2012

Whatever convinced Marcus Evans he should venture into football and buy control of his local club Ipswich Town, it was not publicity. In 2006, Money Week reported there were no publicly available photographs of him, and clicking on to the internet confirms as much.

Enter Evans’ name on search engine Google, and, bizarrely an image of FIFA president Sepp Blatter appears alongside his personal details. He is painfully shy of promoting himself, but promotion for his beloved Ipswich, in every sense of the word, is clearly a different matter.

When Paul Jewell paid the price for Ipswich occupying bottom place in the Championship earlier this week, the quest for a replacement threw up a list of predictable candidates and one that may have been less easy to forecast.

Gone: Jewell paid the price for Ipswich's slow start to the season

Gone: Jewell paid the price for Ipswich's slow start to the season

Alongside the likes of Mick McCarthy and Alan Curbishley, Alan Shearer found himself jostling for position at the club that launched his mentor Sir Bobby Robson towards worldwide managerial renown.

It is even being reported he has already been interviewed, in a development that is reflected in betting trends on who might succeed Jewell. The bookmakers are all over sport these days, laying odds on every eventuality, and football management is no exception.

To borrow a phrase from their original sporting pursuit, though, wouldn’t Evans be better embracing the horses for courses philosophy, rather than considering a punt on a big-name personality with precious little managerial experience

History suggests he might, and so does logic, a fundamental tool of the business world that is so rarely applied when high-flying entrepreneurs turn their attention to football.

There may be a superficial appeal to having one of the game’s greats at the helm, but prowess as a player is no guarantee of effectiveness as a manager. The past is littered with examples, from Graeme Souness and Terry Butcher, in their early days, to Chris Waddle and David Platt.

Rock bottom: Ipswich are propping up the Championship table

Rock bottom: Ipswich are propping up the Championship table

When Souness found the going hard, in his first English managerial post at Liverpool, the case for the defence was always based on the premise that he was a winner. As a player, perhaps. Undoubtedly, in fact, given his haul of winner’s medals and thoroughly-merited reputation as one of the game’s most fearsome midfield enforcers.

As Liverpool were finally forced to concede, though, after sacking him in January, 1994, following an ignominious FA Cup defeat by Bristol City, that has no bearing on whether the same applied as a manager.

Butcher was just as forceful a character and equally revered as a player, yet his first stint in management, at Coventry, lasted barely 14 months.

In the running: Shearer

In the running: Shearer

They may be in the doldrums now, but, when former England centre-half Butcher was appointed, Coventry had won the FA Cup three years earlier and finished seventh in the old First Division the previous season.

He was seen as the driving force to take them on to even greater heights, and he has subsequently earned plaudits in humbler surroundings in Scotland. His first managerial experience left its scars, however, and only reinforced the view that giants of the pitch do not always assume the same proportions in a dug-out.

Burnley were similarly seduced by
thoughts of Waddle’s genius with the ball at his feet and assumed he
could weave the same magic with a clipboard in his hand. It lasted one
season. Nottingham Forest were left with plummeting finances and
fortunes after allowing Platt to spend millions in an ill-fated two-year
reign at the City Ground.

Still clubs flirt with the idea of
A-list players moving seamlessly into management. Evans is following
just such a path now, it would seem, by toying with the idea of
appointing Shearer, even though it may fly in the face of reason, in
some quarters.

Playing legend though he was, his managerial CV contains just one entry, a brief spell at Newcastle, where he won just one game out of eight and failed to save them from relegation. Contrast that with McCarthy’s record of steering Sunderland and Wolves to promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

Dour, blunt-talking McCarthy is not big box office, though, and that may prove decisive in the final analysis. Evans evidently wants to raise the profile of his club, which is fine – and long as it doesn’t lower their League status in the process.

Alan Curbishley declares interest in Ipswich Town job

Curbishley ready to rival Shearer for Ipswich job after declaring interest

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UPDATED:

10:25 GMT, 26 October 2012

Interested: Curbishley

Interested: Curbishley

Alan Curbishley has declared himself available for talks should Ipswich Town want him to take over their vacant managerial post.

The former Charlton boss – who has been out of work since leaving West Ham in 2008 – is among the favourites to succeed Paul Jewell, who departed Portman Road earlier this week.

The 54-year-old told Sky Sports that he is surprised to be among the favourites for the job, but welcomed the news.

'I am amazed when you look at the betting and I am up there with the frontrunners,' Curbishley said.

'Ipswich have been inundated with people who would like that job and I think they have a very important decision to make.

'The last two or three years have been tough as they have been in decline a little bit.

'They have to take their time, sift through the people that are available and come up with the right answer.

'I am available, obviously, and if they want to talk to me, I would talk to them.'

Struggling: Jewell (below) departed after Ipswich's disastrous start to the season

Struggling: Jewell (below) departed after Ipswich's disastrous start to the season

Struggling: Jewell (below) departed after Ipswich's disastrous start to the season

Alan Shearer in for Ipswich job

Ipswich weigh up Toon hero Shearer as they widen search to replace sacked Jewell

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 25 October 2012

Alan Shearer has become one of the frontrunner for the vacant manager’s job at Ipswich.

Alan Curbishley is favourite for the post at Portman Road after the sacking of Paul Jewell on Wednesday.

Ipswich are bottom of the Championship but the club insist they have received plenty of applications. The shortlist also includes Mick McCarthy, Steve Cotterill, Owen Coyle and club legend Terry Butcher.

Fancy Ipswich, Alan Shearer, who is on holiday in Barbados, was interview about the vacant managerial job at Portman Road

Fancy Ipswich, Alan Shearer, who is on holiday in Barbados, was interview about the vacant managerial job at Portman Road

Shearer’s only managerial experience was with Newcastle in 2009.

The former England striker was in caretaker charge for the final eight games of the 2008-09 season as Newcastle tried to stay in the Premier League.

He could not manage it, however and they were relegated after losing at Aston Villa.

Shearer almost took the reigns at Portman Road when Roy Keane was sacked in January 2011, before owner Marcus Evans turned to the experience of Jewell.

A team-mate of Shearer’s at Newcastle, Michael Chopra, has already backed his former captain for the job.

He said: 'I would love to see Alan Shearer as manager, such a good person and worked, played under some great managers including Sir Bobby Robson.'

Ipswich target Alan Curbishley to replace Paul Jewell

Ipswich target Curbishley after sacking Jewell for poor start to season

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 October 2012

Ipswich have spoken to Alan Curbishley about taking the vacant manager’s job at Ipswich after Paul Jewell was sacked on Wednesday.

Curbishley wants a return to management and Ipswich chief Marcus Evans is ready to give the 54-year-old the chance to revive his career.

Jewell left Portman Road after a sorry start to the season that has seen the club pick up just seven points from their opening 12 games – leaving them rooted to the bottom of the Championship.

In the running: Alan Curbishley has been linked with the Ipswich job

In the running: Alan Curbishley has been linked with the Ipswich job

Curbishley recently turned down the chance to replace Owen Coyle at Bolton, not wanting to uproot from his Essex base.

But the former Charlton boss sees the Ipswich job as a perfect route back into football given he will not have to move.

It is understood Curbishley also wants to bring Mervyn Day, with whom he worked with at the West Ham and the Valley, with him to the Suffolk club.

Gone: Paul Jewell was sacked by Ipswich on Wednesday

Gone: Paul Jewell was sacked by Ipswich on Wednesday

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy is emerging as a contender for the vacant Crystal Palace job.

The former Wolves manager is being considered by Palace chairman Steve Parish, who lost Dougie Freedman to Bolton on Tuesday.

Parish has confirmed he will speak to Steve Coppell about rejoining Palace in some capacity, be it as new manager or director of football.

Paul Jewell staying at Ipswich for Derby game

Under-fire Jewell staying at Ipswich for must-win game against Derby

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UPDATED:

11:50 GMT, 22 October 2012

Paul Jewell has revealed he will remain as manager of Ipswich for Tuesday's npower Championship match at home to Derby as pressure mounts on his future.

Former West Ham boss Alan Curbishley has been linked with replacing Jewell, who considered quitting the Suffolk club following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Hull left struggling Town winless in 10 games and still second-bottom in the table.

But the Liverpudlian received the complete backing of owner Marcus Evans and his players, among many others, when weighing up his decision and has opted to stay, although he acknowledges results must improve and quickly.

Under pressure: Ipswich manager Paul Jewell faces a must-win game against Derby

Under pressure: Ipswich manager Paul Jewell faces a must-win game against Derby

'I had another restless night on Saturday and then spoke to Marcus Evans (Ipswich's owner) on Sunday afternoon about the situation,' Jewell told the club's official website.

'We had a good chat and yet again he gave me his 100 per cent backing. I couldn't really ask for more support from the owner to be honest.

'I've had text messages of support from the players as well, from other managers and from players who have played for this club – even some I have let go!

Football League blog

'That has meant a lot to me. I've spoken to the coaching staff and we're now preparing for what is obviously a very important game on Tuesday against Derby.

'I said a few things after Saturday's game – perhaps in the heat of the moment but it's clear that results on the pitch have not been good enough. I can only continue to do my best for this football club to turn things around. That has to happen very quickly though.'

Jewell will now hope to turn matters around against Derby, with whom he endured a failed spell in charge between November 2007 and December 2008 before resigning.

Another former employer are the visitors to Portman Road on Saturday in Sheffield Wednesday, where Jewell spent eight months before his sacking in February 2001.

Alan Curbishley could replace Owen Coyle at Bolton

Curbishley could be on the cards to replace Coyle if Bolton keep floundering

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UPDATED:

22:10 GMT, 4 September 2012


Return: Could Alan Curbishley rejoin the management game

Return: Could Alan Curbishley rejoin the management game

Alan Curbishley has emerged as an early contender to replace under-fire Bolton manager Owen Coyle, whose team have gained just four points from 12 in their attempt to secure promotion.

Curbishley has been out of the game since leaving West Ham in 2008.

Coyle is fighting to save his job at Bolton after chairman Phil Gartside warned that results must improve.

Bolton are banking on an immediate
return to the Premier League but Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Hull left them
with four points from their first four games, just days after they
crashed out of the Capital One Cup to Crawley Town.

Clark"s Birmingham appointment moves closer as rivals fail to meet Pannu standards

Clark's Birmingham appointment moves closer as rivals fail to meet Pannu standards

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 21 June 2012

Lee Clark will undergo a second interview with Birmingham City on Friday and, if successful, could be installed immediately as the club's new boss.

The former Huddersfield Town chief has already undertaken one round of talks with the Championship club.

And it appears to be his job to lose after his closest rivals failed to impress acting chairman Peter Pannu.

On the brink: Clark could be named Birmingham's new boss on Friday

On the brink: Clark could be named Birmingham's new boss on Friday

Pannu was asked by club owner Carson Yeung to interview ex-Sunderland chief Roy Keane, currently working as a television pundit for ITV at Euro 2012.

But Keane wanted assurances about the job that Pannu was unable to offer. Alan Curbishley also met the club's main decision-maker but withdrew his application shortly afterwards.

Clark is the preferred choice ahead of Phil Brown and, if he impresses once more, is in line to succeed Chris Hughton with his position likely to be confirmed over the weekend.