They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and sadly for Harry Redknapp’s successor Glenn Roeder, his was not the most dynamic of entrances.
‘I know many supporters expected a bigger name to take over and I realise the huge responsibility that goes with the job, but I am ready to embrace the task ahead,’ was Roeder’s own comment on his appointment – and how true he was.
Steve McClaren, Alan Curbishley, David Moyes and Alex McLeish had all been linked with the post before Roeder was promoted from within from a coaching position, despite his only previous managerial experience being unremarkable stints at Gillingham and Watford.
Not the most promising of starts – and sadly for the club that gambled on him and the fans who protested against him getting the job, fearing the worst, he lived down to expectation.
His two seasons in charge were hugely contrasting – the first showing signs of promise, and the second being one that still causes fans to wake up in a cold sweat.
Adding Don Hutchison, England keeper David James and cult hero Tomas Repka to the squad Redknapp had left behind, as well as giving the hugely promising Jermain Defoe his first regular senior team action – he ended the 2001-02 season as top scorer – saw West Ham finish seventh in Roeder’s debut season in charge, causing some fans to question their earlier criticism.
But what followed remains the stuff of legend, for all the wrong reasons, as somehow Roeder managed to get West Ham relegated with the highest ever number of points for a relegated side, and surely the most talented squad.
The 2002-03 season was the first one where the transfer window rule was in operation, and West Ham fell victim to it, to devastating effect.
With the season having already got off to a miserable start, first choice strike duo Paolo di Canio and Freddie Kanoute were ruled by long-term injuries, meaning Roeder had to pin all his hopes on the still inexperienced Defoe and the out of position defender Ian Pearce up front.
A season long-game of catch-up meant a frantic race to try and stay up until, with three games remaining, Roeder collapsed and was diagnosed with a brain tumour, leaving stand-in manager Sir Trevor Brooking to lead the valiant but unsuccessful battle to avoid relegation.
Four games into the new season, finally Roeder was sacked following a bizarre afternoon where the team got changed on the bus after refusing to use Rotherham’s ‘small’ changing rooms.
The wrong man, at the wrong time, with the wrong outcome. Glenn Roeder. Unforgettable, but for all the wrong reasons.