Keen: We must go back to roots

BY foxsports • May 20, 2011

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."