West Ham United has only had 10 managers in their 109-year history and yet, in a turbulent season of change, Glenn Roeder, Trevor Brooking and Alan Pardew, all occupied the manager's office. This was only a slight statistic compared to the 16 top quality players who left the club in the months following relegation.
After the departure of Glenn Roeder, Trevor Brooking returned to his roll of caretaker manager for 12 games while a successor was sought. After a run of seven wins and one solitary defeat, Brooking stood down to be replaced by Alan Pardew from Reading, a man who offered passion, poise and promise. Once he had gained his first win, Pardew too managed a run of form with the club that saw seven wins in 13 games, including a 3-1 FA Cup away win at Premiership new-boys Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Eleven goals in three successive home wins in March and three wins in the last four games of the season saw West Ham United quality for the Premiership Play-Offs, where they faced Joe Royle's Ipswich Town. After a gruelling battle at Portman Road where the Hammers were beaten by a single goal, the second-leg at Upton Park proved to be the highlight of the season. In front of one of the noisiest and most passionate crowds seen at the Boleyn Ground, Pardew's team took Ipswich Town apart and battled on, deservedly, to the final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on May 29th 2004.
Despite defeat on the day, West Ham United finished the season as one of the First Division's strongest teams, still difficult to beat at home or on the road. With an improving young squad under his command, Alan Pardew can rightfully feel confident about the season ahead. He has now put together a team he can call his own, and a team with the potential to achieve success for him and the magnificent West Ham United fans.