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Hammers face credit crunch

PUBLISHED: 16:12 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:11 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG WEST Ham s star players are set to pay a heavy price for their dismal end of season run - by forfeiting their annual bonuses. The club has installed special clauses in all contracts stating that bonus payments will only be paid if the t

By JONATHAN CLEGG

WEST Ham's star players are set to pay a heavy price for their dismal end of season run - by forfeiting their annual bonuses.

The club has installed special clauses in all contracts stating that bonus payments will only be paid if the team achieve a top-10 finish in the Premier League.

West Ham are still clinging to tenth position - the same place they have occupied since mid-November - but a series of poor displays have threatened to drop them out of the top half of the table.

Defeat at home to Portsmouth on Tuesday night extended a disastrous sequence of one win in their last six games, during which time the Hammers have take just four points from a possible 18.

The Upton Park side sit just four points and one place above rivals Tottenham and Alan Curbishley has revealed that failure to hold onto that position will leave everyone at the club feeling the squeeze - including the West Ham boss himself.

"All the bonuses this year are geared to being in the top-10 and there's nothing for not being there," Curbishley explained.

"So for people to think we've switched off is wrong. That's everybody at the club - we're all in it and we need to be in the top-10 to take anything from the season. That's why [the poor form] is even more disappointing."

Curbishley had focused on climbing the table in recent weeks, challenging his players to finish the season ahead of top-half rivals Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers.

Now the West Ham boss admits that his chief priority is ensuring the club do not waste a season of hard work by losing their grip on a top-10 position in the final weeks of the season.

He said: "We've been in this position for the last five weeks and we've hardly won a game. The opportunity has been there for us to push on and we haven't taken that.

"At the very least I'd like to stay in tenth, but obviously we've got to win some games for that to happen.

"We've got five games left and we've got to win some or the season will fizzle out and we'll end on a downer, which is the last thing I want."

West Ham's run of poor results has coincided with the return of the club's injury curse, and Curbishley was again without 11 first-team players on Tuesday night following Mark Noble's withdrawal with a hamstring injury.

But the Hammers manager has admitted that the time for excuses is over, warning his players that they will be hit in the wallet unless the inconsistent performances improve.

"I can't keep complaining about [the injuries] at the club - we just need to get on with it," said Curbishley.

"We're too up and down at the moment. We played ever so well at Everton and we played well for half a game up at Sunderland. I think we did well in the first half on Tuesday, but after that we've fizzled out in games."

The West Ham boss is also concerned by the team's failure to create goal-scoring chances, which was again exposed in the drab home defeat to Portsmouth.

Bobby Zamora dragged an early chance wide, but the Hammers failed to fashion another meaningful effort and looked doomed from the moment that Nico Kranjcar fired the visitors in front in the second half.

West Ham are the lowest scorers of all the sides in the top half of the league, and Curbishley acknowledged that he may be forced to bring in new players this summer if his team fail to find a cutting edge.

"We don't look as if we're going to score, which is a big problem," he said. "We had a great chance in the first half on Tuesday but we didn't take it and then we didn't create too much. That's something I've got to think about.

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