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Sep 3, 2008

Curbishley resigns as West Ham boss

Alan Curbishley has beaten Kevin Keegan to be the Premier League's first managerial casualty of the season by walking out of West Ham United, blaming a 'breach of trust and confidence' for his sudden departure.

Curbishley had been under intense pressure for months and was the bookies' favourite to be first out.

And now the former Charlton boss, who took charge at Upton Park in December 2006, when he succeeded Alan Pardew, has jumped before he was pushed after guiding the club to their best start to a Premier League season for nine years.

A club statement said: 'We can confirm that we have accepted Alan Curbishley's resignation as we feel it is in the best interests of both parties.

'We wish Alan all the success in the future. A shortlist of candidates is being drawn up and an announcement will be made in due course about the new West Ham United manager.'

Curbishley's position had been the subject of speculation towards the end of last season when Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, a former West Ham player, was linked with the job. He is sure to be a target again just days before their World Cup qualifiers begin with England visiting Zagreb on Wednesday.

First team coach Kevin Keen has been appointed caretaker manager as the Hammers hunt for a permanent replacement for Curbishley.

The 50-year-old became disillusioned with the club's transfer policy after Anton Ferdinand was sold to Sunderland for £8million. The manager claimed it was a board decision aimed at protecting his value, despite the fact there remained two years on his deal.

Curbishley then stated it was the end of the player sales at the club and that seemed to ring true when Manchester City failed in a bid to take Craig Bellamy.

But on transfer deadline day George McCartney, an ever-present last season and one of Curbishley's favoured players, was sold from underneath him, also to Sunderland, for £4.5million.

Curbishley was said to have felt embarrassed by the whole affair and that he no longer had the authority to manage the football club.

In a statement released via the League Managers' Association he said: 'I started my West Ham United career when I left school in 1974 and have remained a lifelong fan. I have been incredibly proud to manage such a great club and my decision to resign has been very tough.

'The selection of players is critical to the job of the manager and I had an agreement with the club that I alone would determine the composition of the squad.

'However, the club continued to make significant player decisions without involving me. In the end such a breach of trust and confidence meant that I had no option but to leave. Nevertheless, I wish the club and the players every success in the future.'

The LMA went on to cite 'the club's unilateral actions around player transfers, without reference to their manager [which] have created irreparable damage to Alan's working relationship with the directors.'

Richard Bevan, LMA chief executive, said: 'The LMA has been working with Alan Curbishley over the past few days in an attempt to resolve his grievances with his employers. Sadly for West Ham United and Alan, reconciliation was not possible in the circumstances.'

Earlier today the club posted a statement on their website justifying their position with regards to their transfer policy over the last couple of weeks.

'West Ham United are looking to a bright future after a summer of consolidation and a positive start to the new season at the Boleyn Ground,' said the statement.

'The club is fully committed to a high-quality first-team squad based on solid financial foundations that will challenge at the top end of the Premier League and in the cup competitions.

'As stated before and during the close season, our intention was always to hone the size of the playing staff with several key performers returning to fitness and the emergence of homegrown talent.

'This has now been achieved with seven players sold or released and four recruited. Along with the importance of adding quality new signings with bright futures, a key aim has been to secure important players on long-term contracts.

'Such investment has ensured the club can keep together its strong spine of England internationals Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer and Dean Ashton along with players with proven international pedigree like Lucas Neill, Valon Behrami, Julien Faubert and Craig Bellamy.

'Unsurprisingly this summer we received a number of significant bids for leading players - in itself emphasising the high number of quality internationals at Alan Curbishley's disposal - and all were rejected.

'However, in particular, the transfers of Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney along with the release of Freddie Ljungberg were right for the club and decisions had to be taken based on our best long-term interests.

'In the past week, agreement could not be reached with Ferdinand on a new contract to replace his original deal that had just two years left to run while McCartney handed in a formal written transfer request after failing to resolve his personal reasons for wanting a move away.'

West Ham chairman and owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson added: 'In my first full season as chairman I can assure supporters we are working hard to bring sustained success to West Ham United.

'We have a long-term strategy that takes into account all aspects of West Ham United's past, present and future and we will not be deterred.'

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