Keen: We must go back to roots

Keen has called for a return to the traditional West Ham way after

a turbulent few years at Upton Park resulted in relegation from the

Premier League last weekend. The former Hammers midfielder wants

the club to once again be built around home-grown players who play

good football under a stable management. After a remarkable record

of eight managers in the club’s first 100 years, West Ham have now

had five different men at the helm in five seasons. Keen is the

latest and he will use Sunday’s game against Sunderland to press

home his blueprint for the future and his claims to be considered

Avram Grant’s full-time successor. “I am West Ham through and

through. I had nine years as a player and this is my ninth season

back coaching. Anyone who has got that connection with the football

club would love to be given that opportunity,” said Keen. “If the

opportunity was given to me it would be a great honour and I’d love

to be able to do it. “I know the way the supporters want us to

play. I know the way I want us to play. It is attacking football,

with flair and passing but at the same time some of that Billy

Bonds or Julian Dicks spirit – that when a tackle is there to be

made they make it. “That is what the supporters want and hopefully

that is what the future holds for West Ham. “West Ham used to be

everyone’s second or third team. That was due to the fact we had

three players in the (1966) World Cup-winning team who made a

fantastic contribution to the country. “But it was also the way we

conducted ourselves, the way we played football. “It has been

difficult in the last few years. We had the Icelandic owners, a

change in owners, nearly going bust, the club being run on a

shoestring and nearly more managers than the previous 90 years of

our history. “It is time to go back to our family traditions, to go

back to the ethos and philosophy that made this football club

great, to produce that type of football and that type of

footballer.” Keen’s team to face Sunderland on Sunday will reflect

that, with the likes of Jordan Spence, Zavon Hines, Jack Collison

and James Tomkins all likely to feature. In recent years West Ham

have cashed in on their best academy products, with Rio Ferdinand,

Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Glen

Johnson all sold. Keen would love it if West Ham could find a way

of keeping hold of this current generation and build a team around

them. “Tony Carr has done a great job of producing those players

but unfortunately in recent years they have been sold to Tottenham

and Chelsea,” Keen said. “I know that is the way the football world

works. I would love us to keep hold of the young players because I

know all those young players would run through walls for this

football club and we need to get back to that. “I have a lot of

young players chomping at the bit to play, players who will go out

and show a real desire to play for the claret and blue shirt and

hopefully show a flair and ability on the football that this club

deserves. “The majority of the team will be those who will be

appearing next year for us. “We need to get the family traditions

back. This relegation has now gone and it is an opportunity for

people to regain all the stuff they love about West Ham United.”

Keen has held the caretaker reins once before but this week has

been an eye-opener for him, with the fall-out from relegation,

Grant’s sacking and police being called to the club’s end-of-season

dinner. “It has been a difficult week with what happened at Wigan

and all the media coverage of a minor incident at our dinner,” he

said. “There was a minor scuffle after a lad who was a little bit

drunk got caught up in a bit of banter. After 30 seconds it was all

over. The players’ behaviour, after the disappointment of the

previous day, was exemplary. “Apparently there may have been

something (racist) said, I don’t know, but it has gone. “I want to

focus on getting West Ham a win and repaying the supporters who

have backed us to the bitter end. My focus has been on making sure

the players are aware of that.”