West Ham’s Wally asks for permission to shout!

Hammers’ new coaching recruit Wally Downes

YOU WOULDN’T expect it from one of the original members of the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’, but new recruit Wally Downes was anxious not to overstep the mark at Upton Park on Saturday.

The 49-year-old defensive coach is never usually backward in coming forward, but as manager Avram Grant revealed, he wanted to check first before he could be his usual ebullient self.

“He asked me before the game if he could shout and I said do what ever you want,” confirmed the manager.

“I think he did very well, he was very happy, he is very energetic and sometimes you need that.”


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That may be something of an understatement. Once given the green light, Downes was up and down in the technical area, kicking every ball and a few water bottles besides!

It was a huge contrast to the demeanour of Grant on the sidelines, who for the most part appeared stoic and troubled.

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“Working with him for a few days and speaking to him before that, I am very happy that he came,” said Grant.

“He is a good guy with a lot of passion about the game, good knowledge about the defensive side and he is very committed to his job.”

Grant insists that he was delighted to have Downes on board following the departure of his assistant Zlejko Petrovic last week, and though it was the board who selected the former Brentford manager, they insist that it was the manager who had the final say.

“The board felt we needed to make some changes to the coaching staff because something wasn’t quite right,2 explained co-owner David Gold.

“We proposed to bring in Wally and Avram was thrilled to have him. So I guess you can call it a team decision.

“It was Avram who had the final decision. Anyone who comes in on the football side will always be the manager’s decision.

“We do our best to be supportive, but I wouldn’t want anyone to get the impression we do anything other than what the manager wants.”

Downes himself was keen to play down his part in Saturday’s win, insisting that his role this week was to try and change the ‘attitude’ of the players after the disaster at Liverpool.

He certainly did that and striker Victor Obinna has been impressed by the former Crystal Palace, Reading and Southampton coach.

“He’s a fantastic individual,” said Obinna with a smile.

“He’s been working on each and every one of us mental-wise, also defensively. We’re happy to have him here with us and it’s going to take us far.”

Downes certainly seemed to give West Ham more impetus from the sidelines on Saturday and that can only be a positive thing.

Grant perhaps summed up the situation best: “He is very passionate about the game, all of us are. He is just doing it in a different way.”

Quite right and let’s hope it continues.

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