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Wally Downes: The man who is primed to save West Ham

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27 Nov 2010 00:40:48

Wally Downes: The man who is primed to save West Ham

Wally Downes arrived at West Ham this week as No 2 to boss Avram Grant. But who exactly is the man charged with the task of lifting bottom-of-the-table West Ham against Wigan at Upton Park?  Where is Wally from? Born in 1961 in Hammersmith, Walter John Downes began his playing career with Wimbledon, where he became the club's first Football League apprentice, scoring on his debut against Barnsley in 1979 at the age of 17. All smiles: Wally Downes is getting down to work at new club West Ham A founding member of the Crazy Gang then?He is regarded as one of the instigators of the famous spirit that saw the Dons rise from the old Fourth Division to the top flight in four seasons. He was a tough-tackling utility player and made more than 200 appearances for the club. His career ended in 1988, after he suffered FOUR leg breaks. Then what? Now in his 22nd year as a coach, he spent 12 years at Crystal Palace, working under Steve Coppell, before following him to Brentford. When Coppell left in June 2002, Wally stepped into the hot-seat for the first time, making a good start by avoiding the drop in 2002-03. He was axed after a poor run the following season. Don't mess: Downes memorably confronted Neil Warnock during his time at Reading How did he earn his reputation as a top coach? Reading had the best defensive record in English football as they won promotion to the Premier League in 2005-06. What about that fall-out with Neil Warnock? The pair clashed when Reading faced Sheffield United in January 2007. Downes accused Warnock of telling his players to 'break legs' and their scuffle ended with both men sent to the stands by the referee. The incident earned him cult hero status. There is even a Facebook page titled 'Wally Downes for a knighthood'. So you wouldn't want to get on wrong side of him? Probably not, but Downes is one of the highest-qualified coaches in the English game and described by former manager and mentor Dave Bassett as 'a very clever man, who can talk with some authority about religion, politics and literature'. He's had two days in the job. How's he started? Sources say he has 'got stuck in'. He wants West Ham to get more out of their two big strikers, Carlton Cole (2 goals in 30 games) and Freddie Piquionne. Boss Grant said: 'Nobody can change things in two days, but he is very good. He has a lot of energy and understands his job.' Cole fire: Downes is hoping to get the struggling striker scoring again for the Hammers  UPTON SPARKWest Ham have sold more than 35,000 tickets for today's 'Save Our Season' game with Wigan, but visiting fans took up only 181 of their allocation. The Premier League's bottom club skilfully marketed the game, reducing some tickets to £20. And Upton Park's popular 'kid for a quid' scheme is also in operation.  Andy Townsend's boot room: Clash of the day - West Ham v WiganSpurs press on with Olympic Stadium bid despite White Hart Lane approvalHammer Noble out until 2011 but Parker set to return for 'SOS' Wigan clashWEST HAM UNITED FC


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