West Ham’s famous ‘Great Escape’ squad had a huge bust-up in the dressing room before Carlos Tevez went on to fire the side to Premier League survival, a former striker has revealed.
Marlon Harewood featured for the Hammers after signing from Nottingham Forest in 2003, and played up-front during the 2006-07 season.
With the club struggling in mid-season, manager Alan Pardew was sacked and replaced by Alan Curbishley who kickstarted a turnaround in form inspired by controversial summer signing Carlos Tevez.
West Ham had looked doomed after a 4-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in March left them 10 points from safety, but a run of seven wins from the remaining nine matches – including over Manchester United on the final day – saw them miraculously beat relegation.
And, speaking on the Undr The Cosh podcast, Marlon has also revealed that a huge fight in the West Ham dressing room just weeks before they went on a winning run may also have been crucial.
“We had a massive brawl in the changing rooms, and after that we went on a 10 game unbeaten run, and then Tevez scored at Man United away to keep us in the Premier League,” Harewood claimed.
“I think it was at Charlton, and he [manager Alan Curbishley] just came in after, old school methods, going around talking to people…
“And then one of the lads and it was just all heated and going at each other, it went on for ages, hours after.
“A few things were said, and I think he realised after that we did care. Because sometimes when you’re at the bottom, you think that players don’t care, they're not pulling their finger out or just not showing the passion.”
As it turned out, Curbishley’s rant got the desired reaction from his players, and they went on to remain in the Premier league after a win away at Manchester United on the final day of the season.
Marlon recognised that their survival wasn’t without controversy. Rivals Sheffield United had taken the Hammers to court over their summer signings of Tevez and Mascherano.
The pair’s deal was initially shrouded in mystery, but it eventually transpired that the East London side had broken third-party ownership rules. The Blades had demanded a points reduction, but instead found themselves relegated, having to settle for an out-of -court agreement.
So, the now-retired striker could see the irony when it was Tevez who scored the goal that sealed West Ham’s status as a top-flight side for a further season.
“If Tevez didn’t score we would have gone down,” he admitted.
Tevez moved to Manchester United soon after, following his Argentinian team-mate up north; Mascherano having brought his short spell at the Hammers to an end when he signed for Liverpool during the January window.
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