From the second Avram Grant arrived in England in 2007 I don’t think that he has gone longer than a week without his job being under threat. At Chelsea he was only ever seen as a stop gap, at Portsmouth it was down to their finances and now at West Ham it’s because they’re feeling the heat of a relegation battle. For a man who has got to 3 major cup finals and been Premier League runner-up during his spell in England, this all seems a little harsh.
According to the press and ‘leaks’ from Upton Park, Grant has been one game away from the sack for the last few months and prior to their League Cup semi-final against Birmingham it was no different. Yet despite taking a lead into the second leg and run of form that has seen them take eight points from five games, Grant is still under immense pressure. Let’s put things into perspective; things are tight at the bottom of the league. West Ham are one point from behind 17th placed Wolves, and only two points from climbing six league places. A good run by any team could leave things looking very different.
I accept that Hammers fans don’t like spending time at the bottom of league, nobody does. But almost the entire squad which he has had to work with this season has been inherited from Gianfranco Zola and it simply isn’t up to scratch. Grant was able to bring in four players on permanent deals this summer, one of whom was Frederic Piquionne, who has unquestionably been an improvement on the squad, and another was Thomas Hitzlsperger who has yet to feature in the Premier League this season due to injury. Grant has done a decent job on limited resources and has only lost 10 games, the same amount as 10th placed Blackburn.
However, things appear to be getting a little sinister behind the scenes at West Ham. Despite trying to ignore the distraction of losing his job it is becoming impossible and Grant has hinted at back-stabbing within the ranks of the West Ham board. Grant said in a recent interview regarding the rumours: “This is the main problem. We need to create stability. When the rumours are coming from inside the club it doesn’t create much stability.
“Everyone tries to analyse where the rumours are coming from but when you do that you’re not in the right focus. We are not Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes there are situations you don’t like – you just have to deal with it.”
And in regards to Karen Brady’s newspaper column about the collapse of the Steve Sidwell transfer, Grant said: “I didn’t read the column so I don’t know what she said. Maybe I will have a column in a newspaper and say what I think. All the things I have to say to the people at the club I say to them directly.”
Having the backing of the players in this kind of situation can be of little comfort to Grant because, let’s face it, few players will outwardly criticize the man who is in charge of deciding whether or not they get picked. If media buzz is to believed, Grant’s current position as manager has relied heavily on the fact that both Martin O’Neill and Sam Allardyce have been offered, and both turned down, the job. Both men are used to working on a budget and have good reputations, but could they really do a better job than Grant?
I’m not going to say that West Ham won’t stay up without Grant, or even that Grant doesn’t deserve to be sacked. But the speculation that he has had to endure for a large amount of his six month spell has been grossly unfair. West Ham’s board is in danger of becoming a laughing stock unless they sort out this mess by either deciding to keep Grant or sack him. But either way, put the poor man out of his misery.