Kevin is keen but Hammers need repair

KEVIN KEEN’S record as West Ham manager is played two, won none.

And yet he still wants the job full-time — and believes he can lead the side out of the Championship to coincide with their move into the Olympic Stadium in 2014.

Bolo Zenden, Stephane Sessegnon and Christian Riveros ensured Sunderland went into the summer in high spirits — particularly as they finished in the top 10, above local rivals Newcastle.

But the visitors’ exuberance was not about to spoil the West Ham wake, as they slipped out of the Premier League with barely a whimper. Keen, a player at Upton Park for nine years and a coach for as long, believes he is the answer to West Ham’s current malaise.

If appointed he will be only the second local boy to take the helm since Trevor Brooking’s brief spell in 2003, with Alan Curbishley the last East Ender to take charge.

Keen, who hopes to speak to owners David Sullivan and David Gold later this week, said: “I would still love the job. I have been doing it a long time and I think I have the attributes to take this club forward.

“It is better to go there and give it a go and take the pressure than to say ‘it’s a bit tough’. I’d love to be given the chance.

“Do you not think that over the last couple of years we have had Avram Grant and Gianfranco Zola and we have gone away from the traditions and the way we have played? Those traditions have been lost over the last four or five years and it is time to regain them.”

Keen’s team was clearly picked with an eye on the lean spell that is certain to come in the Championship, as academy graduates Jack Collison, James Tomkins, Jordan Spence and Zavon Hines were preferred to the likes of Scott Parker, Victor Obinna and Lars Jacobsen.

They were given muted applause from the outset from the two-thirds full stadium — but the fans’ wake was livened up eight minutes into the game as Freddie Sears tested Simon Mignolet with a curling shot from the edge of the area.

But for all the early optimism, the atmosphere became all the more funereal after Bolo Zenden — playing his last game for the Black Cats — was left alone to head in Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross.

And Upton Park was in near silence by first-half injury time, but Hines came close to lifting the fans’ spirits with a deft turn and shot, only to be kept out by a superb Mignolet block.

After the break a large proportion of fans in the Trevor Brooking stand took it upon themselves to form a conga line — and Stephane Sessegnon’s goal for Sunderland five minutes into the half was not even enough to put them off their stride.

But Christian Riveros’s strike in injury time — a simple scythe through the home defence then a side-foot home — summed up the Hammers’ problems throughout the season. The goal set the fans off into a chant of “that’s why we are going down”. They were right. It wasn’t all Avram Grant’s fault.

And Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, who suffered relegation with Birmingham under the ownership of Sullivan and Gold, had some words of caution for the east Londoners.

He said: “It is a difficult balancing act. You need a manager who has been there and done it. And you have to get rid of the players that are going, but you have to be careful that you don’t strip it — that you have enough to come back with.” Kevin is keen but Hammers need repair

KEVIN KEEN’S record as West Ham manager is played two, won none. And yet he still wants the job full-time — and believes he can lead the side out of the Championship to coincide with their move into the Olympic Stadium in 2014.

Bolo Zenden, Stephane Sessegnon and Christian Riveros ensured Sunderland went into the summer in high spirits — particularly as they finished in the top 10, above local rivals Newcastle.

But the visitors’ exuberance was not about to spoil the West Ham wake, as they slipped out of the Premier League with barely a whimper. Keen, a player at Upton Park for nine years and a coach for as long, believes he is the answer to West Ham’s current malaise.

If appointed he will be only the second local boy to take the helm since Trevor Brooking’s brief spell in 2003, with Alan Curbishley the last East Ender to take charge.

Keen, who hopes to speak to owners David Sullivan and David Gold later this week, said: “I would still love the job. I have been doing it a long time and I think I have the attributes to take this club forward.

“It is better to go there and give it a go and take the pressure than to say ‘it’s a bit tough’. I’d love to be given the chance.

“Do you not think that over the last couple of years we have had Avram Grant and Gianfranco Zola and we have gone away from the traditions and the way we have played? Those traditions have been lost over the last four or five years and it is time to regain them.”

Keen’s team was clearly picked with an eye on the lean spell that is certain to come in the Championship, as academy graduates Jack Collison, James Tomkins, Jordan Spence and Zavon Hines were preferred to the likes of Scott Parker, Victor Obinna and Lars Jacobsen.

They were given muted applause from the outset from the two-thirds full stadium — but the fans’ wake was livened up eight minutes into the game as Freddie Sears tested Simon Mignolet with a curling shot from the edge of the area.

But for all the early optimism, the atmosphere became all the more funereal after Bolo Zenden — playing his last game for the Black Cats — was left alone to head in Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross.

And Upton Park was in near silence by first-half injury time, but Hines came close to lifting the fans’ spirits with a deft turn and shot, only to be kept out by a superb Mignolet block.

After the break a large proportion of fans in the Trevor Brooking stand took it upon themselves to form a conga line — and Stephane Sessegnon’s goal for Sunderland five minutes into the half was not even enough to put them off their stride.

But Christian Riveros’s strike in injury time — a simple scythe through the home defence then a side-foot home — summed up the Hammers’ problems throughout the season. The goal set the fans off into a chant of “that’s why we are going down”. They were right. It wasn’t all Avram Grant’s fault.

And Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, who suffered relegation with Birmingham under the ownership of Sullivan and Gold, had some words of caution for the east Londoners.

He said: “It is a difficult balancing act. You need a manager who has been there and done it. And you have to get rid of the players that are going, but you have to be careful that you don’t strip it — that you have enough to come back with.”


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