O’Neill tipped to replace Grant

Martin O’Neill is reportedly in line to replace Avram Grant as West Ham United manager, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s match against Arsenal.

West Ham are bottom of the English Premier League, but have lost only one of their last seven games under Grant, seemingly earning the former Chelsea manager a stay of execution.

West Ham beat Birmingham City 2-1 in a Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, but it appears even having one foot in a Wembley final will not be enough to dissuade West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan from showing Grant the exit.

The 55-year-old Israeli, who took over at Upton Park with a four-year deal in June 2010, has been consistently linked with the sack throughout a difficult first half of the season for West Ham.

He left Fratton Park after failing to save Portsmouth from relegation in 2009/10 and was also removed as Chelsea manager in 2008, despite guiding both clubs to the FA Cup and Champions League finals respectively.

Survival specialist Sam Allardyce, who was dismissed from Blackburn Rovers in December, had been tipped to replace Grant, but O’Neill has now emerged as the surprise front-runner.

The 58-year-old Northern Irishman – a former Leicester City and Celtic boss – made an abrupt exit from Aston Villa at the beginning of the season.

After reportedly walking out of Villa Park due to transfer budget cuts and a perceived lack of ambition from the club’s owner, he is an unlikely choice to take over at relegation-threatened West Ham.

West Ham host title challengers Arsenal at Upton Park on Saturday.