FIVE runners and riders to take the reins off Avram Grant

Despite coming off of the back of a Carling Cup semi-final triumph, Avram Grant’s chances of keeping his job seem to decline as each day passes. More and more names continue to be linked to the West Ham job, so here is a list of five of the potential candidates.

Martin O’Neill

Clubs managed: Grantham Town, Shepshed Charterhouse, Wycombe Wanderers, Norwich City, Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa.
Bookies favourite for the job, Martin O’Neill is likely to also be the fan’s favourite. O’Neill has a good track record of taking clubs forward in England. He took Wycombe up two divisions, recorded two League Cup wins and three top half finishes with Leicester and turned Aston Villa into a Champions League contender. O’Neill has also won the Premier League Manager of the Month Award on seven occasions, four of which while at Aston Villa. The capture of O’Neill would be a popular one and would send a sign to the rest of the Premier League that they mean business. In his league managerial career O’Neill averages a win percentage of over 50%, which would do the Hammers quite nicely.

Martin Jol

Clubs managed: Roda JC, RKC Waalwijk, Tottenham Hotspur, Hamburger SV, Ajax.
Until Martin Jol gets a new job he will continue to be linked with every Premier League managerial post going, and this one is no different. Upton Park has been a ground of contrasting fortunes for  Jol while at Spurs. It was the location of Spurs’ historic 3-4 win in 2007, but also the ground where their 2005 4th place finish hopes were dashed, so a return would bring mixed emotions. His track record is very good; consecutive fifth place finishes with Spurs made him a hero at White Hart Lane before he was mercilessly sacked in favour of Juande Ramos. His attacking and attractive style of football was highlighted best during his first year with Ajax when they scored 106 goals and finished with a goal difference of +86 during his first season in charge.

Paul Lambert

Clubs managed: Livingston, Wycombe Wanderers, Colchester United, Norwich City.
If West Ham are considering going down the route of hiring an up and coming manager, then they could do a lot worse than Paul Lambert. Lambert has learned the trade in the lower leagues where he has slowly but surely been making a name for himself. His spell at Livingston was difficult, but Wycombe gave him a second chance and he rewarded them with by earning them a place in the League Cup semi finals in 2007. After a steady season at Colchester, Lambert secured a move to Norwich which is where he really caught people’s attention. After taking them to the League 1 title in his first season, Norwich currently sit 3rd in the Championship behind Cardiff on goal difference. There is no question that hiring Lambert would be a risky move, especially when West Ham are craving consistency and stability, but as a manager for a long term vision Lambert could fit in quite nicely.

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Sam Allardyce

Clubs managed: Limerick, Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers.
From what I gather, ‘Big Sam’ would be an unpopular choice amongst the West Ham faithful. In the Premier League, Allardyce has acquired a skill of securing safety and stability for average Premier League sides on very limited budgets. He may not bring the attacking flair that so many fans crave, but he is undoubtedly good at what he does. Taking Bolton to three consecutive top half finishes between 2003 and 2006 was fantastic achievement and he laid the foundations of the team which we see today. At Blackburn he once again turned the team into a tough, hardworking unit which was hard to beat…something which West Ham seem to be in dire need of.

Slaven Bilic

Clubs managed: Hajduk Split, Croatia U21, Crottia
Bilic developed himself as something of a cult hero among West Ham fans after delaying a move to Everton in 1997 to ensure that the Hammers didn’t get relegated, so he would undoubtedly be a popular appointment. Bilic made his name at the international level during Euro 2008 where he surprised many and led to his Croatia side to a 100% record in the group stages before a heart-breaking late defeat in the quarter-finals to Turkey. Bilic has recently signed a new two-year deal with Croatia, but West Ham will be hoping that a return to one of his former clubs could prise him away. Bilic has a roguish, likeable management style and is known to be a big believer in detailed preparation for big games and with West Ham in threat of relegation, every game will be huge.

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