Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Ron Greenwood

Charles Korr, the author of West Ham United: The Making of a Football Club (1986) has argued that the appointment of Ron Greenwood was a break with the past: "When supporters think of managers it is usually in terms of the success of the club. There is little else upon which to judge them. West Ham had been different in this respect because its pre-Greenwood managers had been with the club for so long in some capacity that supporters could identify with them. The manager at West Ham was something much more than a transitory employee. Greenwood's employment changed all those perceptions. He was not 'an old boy', and he made no attempt to add affections that would give the impressions that he was part of West Ham tradition."

Bobby Moore was pleased with the appointment. He told Geoff Hurst: "I've played under Ron at England Under-23 level. Things are going to change around here, this chap is incredible on the game." Moore informed his close friend, Jeff Powell: "Ron told me one of his major reasons for coming to West Ham was that he knew he had me there to start building his team around." Greenwood rated Moore very highly: "He was exceptional on the training ground, a coach's dream. Whatever you asked him to do, he could do it. Football came easy to him. It wasn't a question of teaching him, merely a question of honing his considerable abilities... I used him at West Ham as a sweeper, which was then an unknown position. He played loose behind the defence and he thrived there."

Ivan Ponting has argued: "Now began the most productive phase of his career. Immediately he felt rapport with the most wholesome of clubs, which had a close-knit family atmosphere, a comforting bedrock of East London support and a playing staff oozing with potential, much of which had yet to be realised. It was the perfect setting for a man of Greenwood's ability and outlook, and he set about moulding the Hammers into a formidable, if somewhat inconsistent force. That entailed a little shrewd dealing on the transfer market but, more importantly, making the most of the talent already at his disposal."

Greenwood sold Noel Cantwell to Manchester United and made Phil Woosnam captain. He also purchased the extremely talented Johnny Byrne for £65,000. He played him alongside Geoff Hurst. As Bobby Moore pointed out: "Greenwood turned Geoff Hurst from a bit of a cart-horse at wing-half into a truly great forward. None of us thought Geoff was going to make the switch... Playing up alongside Budgie must have helped. That man was magic." Greenwood also gave Martin Peters his debut. Moore claimed that: "He was virtually a complete player. In addition to all his talent he had vision and awareness and a perfect sense of timing."

In Greenwood's first full season, West Ham United finished in 8th place. At the beginning of the 1962-63 season Greenwood sold Woosnam to Aston Villa and made Moore captain. Greenwood argued: "I made him captain because he was such a natural leader and had everyone's respect... He was desperate to succeed and was a good captain because he didn't ask anybody to do anything he couldn't do."

Ron Greenwood alerted Walter Winterbottom, the England manager, to the rapid progress of his protégé. Winterbottom decided to take Moore to the 1962 World Cup in Chile. The football journalist, Ken Jones, who worked for the Daily Mirror wrote: "'Uncapped, pedestrian, not up to much in the air, suspect stamina. How could England select the 21-year-old Moore for the 1962 World Cup finals?" Moore made his début on 20th May 1962 in England's final pre-tournament friendly against Peru in Lima. England won 4-0 and as Moore pointed out: "Walter was pleased with the defensive performance and kept virtually the same team for all four matches in that World Cup."

Greenwood slowly built a good team round Bobby Moore. This included Jim Standen, John Bond, Jack Burkett, Ken Brown, Eddie Bovington, Ronnie Boyce, Peter Brabrook, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and John Sissons. Greenwood explained: "When I first went to West Ham they employed inside-forwards and wing-halves, but eventually we changed our system to a flat back four to encourage Bobby to play - he was the lynchpin. We set standards because we had players capable of it.... Our full-backs would push up and get forward. In fact, they were more attacking than some present-day wingers... At the back, Bobby could read along the line and cover the whole area. Everyone was tight going forward and Bobby played loose, free, behind everyone else, and the team could go forward with the confidence Bobby was always behind them, reading anything coming through, mopping up. It was a joy to watch him play."

Despite this, West Ham again struggled in the Football League in the 1963-64 season, finishing in 14th place. However, they were much better in the FA Cup and beat Charlton Athletic (3-0), Leyton Orient (3-0), Swindon Town (3-1), Burnley (3-2) and Manchester United (3-1) to get to the final at Wembley Stadium against Preston North End. Moore later recalled: "We were playing against Preston North End, a Second Division side. We'd been magic in the semi-final against Manchester United. Wembley should have belonged to West Ham. We won and it was good to win the first major honour. Apart from that it was a wash-out. We played badly. We spluttered. We didn't fulfill anything we had promised ourselves. Most of us felt let down. We were lucky to beat Preston, and bloody lucky Preston were no better than they were."

The score was 2-2 as the game approached the 90th minute. John Bond pointed out that both sides were extremely tired: "Tiredness and cramp was creeping in for some of the players on the lush Wembley turf. Extra time looked on when Geoff Hurst took the Preston defence on again, stumbled and recovered before sweeping the ball to Peter Brabrook on the right wing. Peter floated a great ball over the Preston defence; and then it all went into slow motion. As the ball floated across, everyone seemed to stop and watch it. Everyone except Ronnie Boyce that is, who came racing in unmarked to head past Kelly."

Ron Greenwood had won his first trophy and he was determined that it would be the first of many. As winners of the FA Cup West Ham entered the European Cup Winners' Cup. Played over two legs, victories against La Gantoise (2-1), Sparta Prague (3-2), Lausanne (6-4), Real Zaragoza (3-2) resulted in a final against TSV 1860 München at Wembley Stadium on 19th March, 1965.

West Ham won 2-0 with Alan Sealey scoring both goals. Ron Greenwood, later recalled: "Everything we believed in came true in that match." He added that it was Moore's greatest game under his management. Bobby Moore commented: "We benefited from the experience of the previous year and took part in what many people believe was one of the best matches ever played at the old stadium. There was a lot of good football and we played really well against a good side with a lot of good players."

West Ham's victory made them only the second British club to win a European trophy. Bobby Moore commented: "It was probably one of the greatest nights for a celebration the East End had known since VE Night. In West Ham, Plaistow, Bow, Ilford and Barking the pubs were packed and you could not travel very far without hearing people singing the West Ham national anthem. It was a night to remember all right... Everybody seemed to think it had been one of the finest games of football they had ever seen."

At the end of the 1965-66 season Don Revie, the manager of Leeds United, attempted to buy Bobby Moore, who wanted to leave the club. Moore, whose contract with West Ham came to an end on 30th June, 1966. Moore, who refused to sign a new contract, went to see Greenwood about the move: "There was no way we could negotiate. West Ham said they would not let me go in any circumstances. Ron and I had it out for hours. Finally we agreed to let it ride until after the World Cup."

The 1966 FIFA World Cup was held in Britain. Moore joined the England team for pre-tournament training at the beginning of July. However, under Football Association rules, a non-contracted player could not play for England. When Alf Ramsey heard about this, he ordered Moore back to Upton Park to sign a new contract with West Ham.

After their World Cup victory, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters returned to West Ham United expecting to have a great season. As well as the three World Cup winners, the team included several talented individuals, Johnny Byrne, Peter Brabrook, Ken Brown, Ronnie Boyce, Harry Redknapp, John Sissons, Jim Standen, Dennis Burnett, Eddie Bovington, Jack Burkett and John Charles. The club also had a manager, Ron Greenwood, who was considered to be one of the best coaches in the country. However, West Ham could only finish in 16th place and were knocked out by Swindon Town in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. Moore recalled that: "When we got back they had smashed in the windows of my sports shop opposite the ground. I couldn't be angry. It was as hard for us to understand how a team with three World Cup-winning players kept getting it wrong."

In an interview he gave to Jeff Powell, Moore admitted that if "you looked at a few of the individuals and felt there might have been room for improvement." Moore named Jim Standen, Ken Brown and Jack Burkett as players who fell into that category. "If you wanted to be really critical you could find better goalkeepers than Jim Standen... Ken Brown was far from being everyone's ideal at centre half... Jackie Burkett at left back was a very limited player."

Moore was also critical of John Sissons who never developed into the player he thought he could be: "He (Sissons) scored a goal in the FA Cup Final and was still only nineteen when he played in our European Final. At the time he would have been in my squad for the 1966 World Cup. But he never got any better... I'm sure there were many times in those five or six years when Ron made up his mind to leave John out of the side. Then you would see him Monday to Friday in training, up front in the road runs, fastest in the sprints, drilling them into the net with that left foot in five-a-sides, showing you ball skills which demanded a place in the team. Come the Saturday afternoon, nothing. John Sissons was non-existent. He was a thoroughbred who never matured."

Bobby Moore thought that a major problem was that Greenwood could not communicate his ideas to most of the West Ham players: "Ron talked about the game at such a high level that sometimes he went straight over the head of the average player... Some days I believe there were only a couple of us who understood a word he was on about. He never seemed to realise that he should have been talking down to more than half the team... Ron needed to work with the best, the elite players."

Ron Greenwood accused Moore of undermining his authority. Greenwood called Moore into his office and complained: "I know you take in what I'm saying, but will you please also look as if you're listening. How else can I make the rest pay attention." Moore told a friend: "Ron asked me why I didn't go to him any more, to ask about the game. He took it as a sign that I was turning against him... Although he respected me, he didn't like me."

Moore claimed that the main reason why he did not talk to Greenwood about the players was because he did not want his team-mates to think he was being disloyal to them: "Perhaps I should have been a go-between. Perhaps it would have helped when things started to go wrong. But I looked on myself as one of thirty professionals, one of the chaps. I didn't want the people I had to play with thinking I was picking the team. Budgie (Byrne) was much closer to Ron, always in and out of his office. But he had a bubbling personality and could get away with it. Nobody would accuse Budgie of getting them dropped."

John Charles argues that Ron Greenwood "was a great coach". However, he added: "I was never one of Ron's boys... I think a good manager gets to know the boys who they've got. He'll mix with them. The more you mix with them the more you know... Greenwood was a bit careful, maybe sly even. For instance, he'd just leave you out and not tell you. I hardly ever spoke to him, as it happens, no one did really. People did have a go at Greenwood every now and then. I think him and Bobby had their rows."

In his autobiography, Bobby Moore argued that: "When we won the two cups Ron had a good team because he had a majority of good players. We could have gone on to dominate the game for a period, the way Leeds did later." Moore complained that Greenwood did not know how to motivate players: "The lads would come in the dressing room with their heads down and he would say we would talk about it on Monday. Why wait? Tell me what I did wrong. Tell another one he can't bloody play. Tell that player he bottled it. He knew, alright. No man never saw so much in a game as Ron Greenwood. But motivation was not his strength. Some games I would love to have done it. Perhaps he wanted me to. But I didn't see it as my job. Not even as captain. It wasn't up to me to slag another player, and God knows I played with enough who weren't good enough."


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