Fresh from leading Europe to a third successive Ryder Cup, Paul McGinley admits he is now looking forward to returning to the Boleyn Ground to see his beloved West Ham play again.
The 47-year-old has been delighted at the start made by West Ham this season and praised Sam Allardyce for embracing a new, exciting style of football that saw the Hammers climb to seventh in the table after picking up 10 points from their first seven games. In an exclusive interview with Blowing Bubbles, the first Irishman to captain Europe’s Ryder Cup side has been impressed with the newlook Irons.
‘We’ve got off to a brilliant start and have been playing some exciting football,’ he said. ‘We’ve played a few teams who have been out of sorts but we’ve taken full advantage of these games and got points – how often have we been able to say that about West Ham recently? ‘We’ve certainly got momentum heading into our next few games and I hope it stays with us and that we avoid picking up too many injuries given the small squad we have compared to other Premier League sides.
Asked about his feelings towards Sam Allardyce and he was as diplomatic as he was when quizzed by the world’s media ahead of September’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. ‘When it comes to Sam, I’m realistic about the situation because I’m sure with him as manager, we will be playing Premier League football when we move into the Olympic Stadium. ‘From a business point of view, being in the Premier League is what it’s all about at the moment.
‘We haven’t got the budget or a big enough squad to be up there challenging the top four or five sides but if we can secure a couple of top 10 finishes over the next two seasons, that should be seen a huge success. ‘In my opinion, Sam is the man for the job at the moment and I feel confident if we stick with him, we won’t lose our Premier League status.’
Paul enjoyed 10 seasons as a season ticket holder before having to give his seat up as his Ryder Cup duties began to take their toll. ‘I’ve always been a fan of the young guys making their way through the Academy of Football, breaking into the first team and watching them establish themselves as regulars,’ he continued.
‘It’s one of the things I used to love about West Ham but for the last few years, we just don’t seem to be seeing the same volume of youngsters coming through. ‘I know Gold and Sullivan have invested heavily in the Academy but maybe the gulf to break into a Premier League side from the development squad is just too great now?
‘Either way, I hope the money and effort being invested will eventually pay off as it’s good for all West Ham fans to see the youngsters coming through.’ He added: ‘I know the Premier League takes priority at the moment but I’d like to start seeing West Ham have more of a go in the cup competitions. ‘I know we reached the semi-final of the League Cup last season but we didn’t stand a chance with the injuries we had and the fact Manchester City’s squad is big enough that they were able to rest key players and put out a starting XI which was very strong.’
With the move to the Olympic Stadium drawing ever nearer, Paul is hoping to get to as many games as possible. ‘I can, again, see the business argument for the move to the Olympic Stadium but I will be really sad to see us move away from Upton Park,’ he explained.
‘It’s going to be very different and I don’t know how they will get the crowd to fill the stadium if I’m being honest. But, again, it’s all about money in football and moving to the Olympic Stadium will give us the opportunity to raise more cash and with more money, we can invest in better players and a bigger squad.
‘It is, however, going to take a lot of money to ensure West Ham can mount a serious challenge for one of the European spots every season and I think that is the one thing that is wrong about football. ‘In American Football, the worst side in the NFL at the end of the season gets the most money and the best sides gets the least and this helps to bring about balance.’
As for how a boy from Rathfarnham in the Republic of Ireland fell in love with West Ham, he continued: ‘I fell in love with West Ham in 1975 after watching the FA Cup final against Fulham.
‘There was one colour TV on our street and it was about four doors down from us and I remember we all went there to watch it – as did everyone on our street. ‘I took a shine to the West Ham shirt and that was how it started for me. Sure I took some stick in the playground from my friends who supported Liverpool and Celtic but I didn’t care. ‘My father always used to buy a West Ham shirt for me whenever he was in London and I used to wear it when I went to training.
‘I went to my first game at Upton Park in 1987 as I was visiting my Aunt in London and even now I can remember that first journey on the District Line to Upton Park and the walk down Green Street to the stadium.’ Any interview with Paul McGinley would not be complete without asking about the Ryder Cup. ‘It was a great week,’ he said reflecting on Europe’s 16 ½ to 11 ½ victory over the USA. ‘It was the culmination of a couple of years of hard work and it was great to be able to give so much pleasure to so many people across Europe. ‘There were many highlights from those few days but how the players bonded and how well they get on with each other was one of them.
‘The support we had behind us, the brilliant team meetings we had and the excitement of the crowd were others.’ He continued: ‘I’ve been very lucky to have been involved in a number of Ryder Cups now and I’ve taken something away each time. ‘I think being so far behind in Medinah in 2012 and coming back to win has been one of my best Ryder Cup moments. It was like being 4-0 down away from home in football and coming back to win 5-4.
‘This year, there was a different pressure on us because we were considered the favourites but we knew the US team would be right up there to beat us and I was just delighted how well we coped with the pressure. He added: ‘Looking to the future, I don’t know what’s next for me. I’ve never been in this situation before as the captain of a winning Ryder Cup side so it’s all new and I’m taking each day as it comes.
‘I’m hoping to get out there and play a bit more golf myself over the next year as my golf had to take a bit of a back seat as I prepared for the Ryder Cup. ‘I’m also hoping to get to a few West Ham games soon. Usually around Christmas, things start to ease up for me and I can get to a few games at Upton Park.
‘There have been a few West Ham games shown live recently and I’ve been able to watch these but there’s nothing like being at Upton Park.’