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Grant still battling to convince

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Phil McNulty | 06:57 UK time, Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Upton Park

Avram Grant has safely negotiated the three games West Ham United's board earmarked for him to secure his job - but the fourth may yet be the defining moment of his brief reign.

Grant insists he knew nothing about whispers eminating from Upton Park's corridors of power and revealed by BBC Sport that he needed to get at least one win from meetings with Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and Everton to maintain their faith.

The 1-1 draw with Everton ensured Grant recorded a grand total of five points from these decisive dates. West Ham's wider context, however, still presents cause for concern.

The failure to hang on to a lead handed to them by Everton defender Tony Hibbert's second successive own goal at Upton Park - which constituted West Ham's only shot on target - means they stay in the Premier League's relegation zone.

Grant spoke with guarded optimism about the future and his plans for the January transfer window, but the manager who has already had one "Save Our Season" game this term will usher in 2011 with another when West Ham meet fellow strugglers Wolves at home on New Year's Day.

Avram Grant acknowledges the crowd during the valuable West Ham win at Fulham

Avram Grant appears to have done enough to keep his job, until 2011 at least (Getty Images)

West Ham's board have publicly stated their determination to stand by the man they appointed in the summer, but defeat against Wolves is close to unthinkable if patience is not to be tested ahead of the crucial time when reinforcements must arrive.

Grant's last three matches have represented a revival of sorts and he was right to praise the spirit and endurance of his players after sharing the points with an Everton side who were resting on Boxing Day while West Ham were fighting it out at Fulham.

The taxing schedule may explain the lack of energy in West Ham's display and if Everton had anything like the end product to match their approach play then Grant may have ended the year with a defeat.

If this was a home game when victory was desirable, then the meeting with Wolves is one where victory is more or less compulsory for Grant and his players and they will need to approach it with greater vigour than they did against Everton.

Grant is planning for the months ahead and is banking on owners David Gold and David Sullivan working the markets to rejuvenate the squad, with Aston Villa's Steve Sidwell on the way and Reading's Shane Long another target. Victory against Wolves will make it so much easier for him to state his case for financial support in austere times at Upton Park.

He said: "I can tell you something about the owners. There was a debt of more than £100m and they are trying to do everything to stabilise the situation. Even with this, they know we need to make the team stronger.

"They know we have injuries to players and we need to make the team stronger. We are facing a lot of games. The squad needs to be bigger and stronger. I think they know this and are trying their best to find the financial solution to this."

A win against Wolves will also help to give Gold and Sullivan an extra conviction that Grant is the man to oversee this reshaping of the squad whereas defeat might just raise renewed doubts.

Grant at least has quality to work with in the shape of goalkeeper Robert Green, who was reliable on the rare occasions Everton tested him, and in the indefatigable Scott Parker.

Parker was again West Ham's outstanding performer, energetic in all parts of the pitch. If he is lost to this team under any circumstances their chances of staying in the top-flight would diminish considerably.

He has found a natural home at West Ham where he is adored and respected by these knowledgeable supporters. Parker deserves a more high-profile stage at international level and to watch him in action makes England coach Fabio Capello's decision to ignore his claims in favour of Manchester City's Gareth Barry even more mystifying.

After the football management came the expectation management from both Grant and his Everton counterpart David Moyes, who appears almost powerless to solve a glaring flaw in his team.

Grant shapes the expectations of West Ham supporters by talking of little other than survival while Moyes ensured Everton fans do not get carried away with the idea of big-money buys arriving in January, or indeed any time soon.

Everton's season of promise has descended into an unscheduled trip around mid-table mediocrity - and the reason comes as no surprise to regular observers. At the end of last season it was clear Moyes needed a high-class striker but a lack of funds forced him to gamble on free transfer Jermaine Beckford from Leeds United, with mixed results.

This faultline running through Everton has undermined their campaign and Moyes' lack of trust in his established strikers was betrayed by what many considered a negative team selection.

He left Beckford, Yakubu and Louis Saha on the bench and entrusted striking duties to leading scorer Tim Cahill, almost an admission of defeat against a West Ham team suffering with fragile confidence and an unflattering league placing. If Moyes cannot let his strikers loose with confidence against West Ham, when can he?

And so a familiar Everton story unfolded, with plenty of possession and a deserved equaliser from Seamus Coleman before a second half lacking urgency and incision that rarely threatened a winner.

Moyes said: "I thought if any team was going to win it, it was us but we didn't look as if we had the belief that we would score goals. We have just not been able to turn our good football into goals, although I thought it was really good football that produced our equaliser."

Everton's Stephen Pienaar tussles with Julien Faubert during the 1-1 draw with West Ham

Everton's Stephen Pienaar tussles with Julien Faubert during the 1-1 draw with West Ham (Getty)

He added: "I think we've got a really good team." And he is right up to a point - a point where a team becomes not so good because they cannot score goals to round off a passing style that is pleasing on the eye.

The Scot shrugged his shoulders and shook his head when quizzed about the prospect of spending money next month, confirming he will once again be scouring the loan market.

It was a shrug of resignation rather than discontent as chairman Bill Kenwright does not appear able to come up with the funds to make a difference at Everton, with the resulting danger they are being overtaken in the battle for top six places.

With Australia's Cahill heading off to the Asian Cup and Steven Pienaar - the most accomplished player on show at Upton Park - sure to be at the centre of transfer speculation in January, Everton's attacking options could get worse before they get better.

If Pienaar's contract gripe centres on a reported wish for pay parity with Mikel Arteta, then he has a strong case on the evidence of a season in which his performance and attitude have been exemplary while the Spaniard has struggled.

For West Ham, Grant believes their season has been given fresh impetus by a three-match unbeaten league run. It is crucial to his and West Ham's future that it is maintained against Wolves on Saturday.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think with a couple of good signings or loan deals, they can avoid relegation, while Everton is in shambles and they need a manager that can take them up an extra level, like Harry Redknapp has done at Tottenham.

  • Comment number 2.

    You say not holding onto the lead ensured they remain in the relegation zone. If they won about 15 -0 they would have got out of the zonew. That was hardly likely given their attacking prowess

  • Comment number 3.

    Not trusting your strikers to do what they are supposed to do is not just a problem at Everton. Other teams got tactics wrong last night and dropped points. But one thing is certain none of Moyes strikers will save his season if he has them on the bench. Grant on the other hand defies belief. I know the jury is still out on him, but he does actually slowly seem to be turning it around... if he can get over the injuries and .......if and if...... It's very tight at the bottom but surprisingly , the one team playing pretty football is starting to fall away at the bottom. Will McCarthy oversee yet another relegation?

  • Comment number 4.

    Once more it is refreshing to read your blog regarding one of the country's historic clubs. Phil, this again a welcome change. To read about West Ham and their current situation is of more interest to football fans than the usual over exposed Top4 drivel. The plight of a great club is more interesting and important to our sporting fabric than any Man U/C Chelsea etc reserve player tittle tattle stories or the state of mind of Balotelli/Rooney/Terry/Bridge et al. Yet the media seem to be more aware of the fringe players at the Sky4 than our great family of clubs.
    As the BBC top man for football please leave all that to the tabloids.
    Please continue to take a football perspective of all of the top clubs.

    Now that is off my chest, I hope that Grant keeps the Hammers up. It is always good to see them and their desire of playing stylish football may yet prove to be successful. Grant has been underrated as a manager, he is a good man for the job.

  • Comment number 5.

    A miserable manager for a miserable team.

    West Ham offer nothing to the premier league, the quicker they blow bubbles in the championship the better.

    They flirt with relegation too often and only survived because of the likes of Derby, Boro and Portsmouth. Some teams become stale and west ham is one of them.

    Bye bye bubble blowers

  • Comment number 6.

    I'll admit I'm not a fan of Grant; he doesn't seem to inspire West Ham, his affection for ex-portsmouth players like Ben Haim mystifies me, and his team selections I can only suggest come with the help of a lucky 8 ball. Last night, when we needed to inject a bit of pace to break down Everton, Grant decided not to make a meaningful substitution (I'm ignoring Cole's appearance as he again seemed to have left his brain at home). If I was Berrara or Stanislas I would be bending Grants ear to find out why he has brought back Sears, and played him out wide instead of them.

    And what is this fascination with Boa-Morte?? I'll admit our midfield is currently decimated by injury (Collison, Hitzlsperger, Noble) but surely we could play a proper winger instead of this Free-kick generator Grant seems so enamoured by?

    Scott Parker - unluckiest player not to be picked for England?? Another towering performance from the most in-form (english) central midfielder in the Prem. Capello open your eyes, you are in danger of becoming more blinkered than McClaren. Thought Tomkins is also starting to play at a more consistent and assured level.

    As for Everton, if only they could finish. With Arteta they have a player capable of opening up teams, and Piennar looks dangerous when he gets into wide positions. But that is wasted if they haven't got a striker who can score. Yakubu did little last night when he came on, Beckford isn't Prem quality, and I haven't seen Saha to know if he's inform, out of form, injured etc.

    If Grant stays, he needs to make some astute recruitments in January - a left back, a right back (although I think Jacobson is decent), a central midfielder (Sidwell?), and a goal poacher (Owen is rumoured but frankly I'd take anyone who can put the ball in the net - even Harry Redknapps mother.

    West ham have had one Save Our Season Game - Wolves could be Grants "Save My Job" game.

  • Comment number 7.

    The reason Parker is not picked for England is that he is NOT a holding midfielder. He is a box to box player so is competing with Gerrard and Lampard. Unfortunately is is written down that Gerrard and Lampard can never be dropped!

  • Comment number 8.

    I didn't see this game, but just one shot on goal sounds like West Ham's game against Man City, when I thought they were very poor and had RELEGATION stamped on their foreheads. But we all know when the going gets tough, teams can pull something out of the fire. West Ham themselves when Carlos Tevez was there, and Fulham under Roy Hodgson, just 2 recent examples.

    This is the second day running I've seen someone bemoan Scott Parker's perceived continuing struggle to displace Gareth Barry from an England midfield slot. Is he really a different player to the one we've known over the last 10 years? Tbh, I haven't seen much of him recently. If he has upped his game, fair play to him, but is it a matter of a big fish in a small pond and because we didn't win the WC we have to blame someone and there has to be someone better, whereas in fact there isn't and we should try and get the most out of the best of what's at our disposal? As a City supporter, I have to admit seeing Gareth Barry pull out of tackle with whoever it was on the German flank in SA for one of their goals made me cringe, and with his early season performances I thought his legs had gone, but he's been playing very well the last couple of months. I wonder if he's bearing the fruit of Roberto Mancini's policy of resting players (admittedly, made easier by the resources at RM's disposal), and whether this is food for thought for English football in general. Were City so superior yesterday because their replacemnts were so fresh, and Villa so poor because the same players had played the late game less than 2 days earlier?

    Regarding Everton, you were eulogising David Moyes after the City game Phil, but yesterday's result and Everton's league position provide more sober reading. Isn't David Moyes Mr. Huff 'n' Puff? A poor man's Sir Alex Ferguson, from a different department of the same percentages school as Sam Allardyce, that teaches that if you play high pressure football at a million miles an hour, you will get something out of a lot of games, and pre Arry Spurs and Mansour City would get you, or near to, European football? The bar's been raised, and now Moyes finds himself being upstaged, possibly only temporarily, by arguably the more football-minded Coyle, Holloway et al. Don't get me wrong, I think David Moyes has done a fantastic job for Everton, but I'm wondering whether he's seen his best days there.

  • Comment number 9.

    Firstly on Evertons problems, i myself believe Moyes at times is negative but people baseing this on his team selection against West Ham are talking nonesense imo. Everton have for years played with a lone striker not just away from Goodison but also in there home matches. The formation is imo good for away fixtures making Everton well organised, hard to break down and normally with a goal scoring midfielder (Cahill) helping to support the lone striker. Home games there is a case for playing two strikers but with results in previous seasons and the lack of faith Moyes has in his strikers at the moment its understandable that he is sticking with a formation that has served him well. There are times especially in home games that Moyes should imo be more positive not just with substitutions or starting with two strikers but more in the way of in wide areas we have to get more players in the box and put the crosses in earlier giving them a chance to attack the ball. Evertons football mainly this season has been played infront of teams, trying to walk the ball in and in most cases having one touch to many which any organised team with two banks of four can defend quite easily. To find a goalscorer on loan in January would be great but its not realistic and the same strikers are still at the club (far from there best) and its confidence a run of goals can bring thats lacking but avoiding playing players were they are not comfortable and getting Arteta and Jageilka back to there best are more important imo. Moyes's decision during matches to try Piennar opposite Baines even when things are going well is also strange given that most inside Goodison can see those two for the most part can open up any team. West Ham are a team i have not seen alot of but expected there form to improve after beating Man Utd in the Carling Cup, in Scott Parker (coca cola kid) they have a fine allround central midfielder who i was gutted Everton did not sign when he chose the money Newcastle offered as he is a player who i believe would have found Goodison the home that he has now found at Upton Park. You mention Phill how Barry is chosen for England before him? well a manager Cappello who played Jageilka rightback probably says it all really. Cole sometimes looks a really good player, from afar it looks like he does not do it often enough and needs a kick up the backside which is typical of many young modern Premier League footballers who believe there abillity is far better than it really is imo. Sidwell should be a interesting signing to see if Parker plays a more attacking role and can add more goals to his game which he already seems to have started doing this season. West Ham always strike me as a team that need to be confident and when things get tough the wheels can sometimes fall off. Its really tight down at the bottom and it looks like any team from eigth down could easily be sucked into trouble with a run of poor results.

  • Comment number 10.

    Interesting comment about Parker not getting selected ahead of Barry. Personally Barry needs to be dropped from the England team and someone like Parker should come in. Barry's job in the England team is sit in front of the defence, but he seems to spend far too much time up the field. I know he does a different job for Man City, but the sole reason for him being in the England starting XI is as a midfield guard so Gerrard can push on. If he's not going to do that, then Parker should be brought in.

  • Comment number 11.

    I believe West Ham will stay up, not because of Avram Grant's expertise or managerial ability, but because I think they have enough good players to just about survive. For me, Wolves and Wigan are doomed, and it will be between West Ham and possibly Fulham, Birmingham and West Brom for the other relegation place.

    I think Steve Sidwell will be a decent signing. He's in a similar role to Scott Parker but seems to have an eye for a pass. If West Ham can get Mark Noble back and keep him fit, as well as getting something out of Thomas Hitzlsperger, suddenly you've got a stable-looking midfield with a bit of creativity sprinkled in there. While Luis Boa Morte and Radoslav Kovac are relied upon, the team is always going to struggle. They could do worse than possibly going after someone like Carlos Vela from Arsenal on loan. The Mexican rarely makes the bench at Emirates, let alone the starting line-up, and he would represent an excellent acquisition and something different for West Ham.

    As for the earlier post on Carlton Cole, I'm really starting to tire of West Ham fans' lack of tolerance for him. He is a cracking player, one that came on leaps and bounds last season before a knee injury pushed his season into decline. He has been dropped on a number of occasions by Grant already this season, but the braces against Manchester United and Fulham show he is a real threat. He's acquired an eye for goal he never previously had, and his hold up play is second to none. In the absence of quality wide players, the idea of him at the peak of a three-man attack containing Victor Obinna and Freddie Piquionne is an appealing one, especially with the endeavour of Scott Parker and Valon Behrami behind them.

    To those questioning Parker's ability to be the holding ball-winner England so desperately need: his role for West Ham requires him to support the attack as well as the defence. But he is tenacious in the tackle, has an engine unparalleled and recycles the ball effectively. Ask him to curb his attacking instincts and focus on that side of his game for England and you've got yourself a far superior player than the poor excuse that is Gareth Barry. Fabio Capello's blind spot with Parker is as shocking as it is stupid.

  • Comment number 12.

    ' If Pienaar's contract gripe centres on a reported wish for pay parity with Mikel Arteta, then he has a strong case on the evidence of a season in which his performance and attitude have been exemplary while the Spaniard has struggled. '

    As a season ticket holder I fundamentally disagree with this. Moyes has taken it upon himself to use Arteta so deep this season that he's almost playing in the Makelele, Deschamps, classic French 'water carrier' position, where he's totally wasted and has no chance of hurting the opposition, that's the only reason he's struggled.

    But Pienaar? I wouldn't offer this empty vessel any more than £30k a week, never mind parity with Arteta. His final ball and shooting are beyond abysmal, every attack from him ends up skied high & wide or given straight back to the opposition. There was one point in the second half yesterday when he was on the break, and Coleman was in a great position to his right, but he didn't even see Coleman, and gave it straight back to West Ham, who subsequently nearly scored on the break - that's what Pienaar gives you, week in, week out.

    Truly dreadful use of Cahill yesterday, to actually use him as the striker defeats the point of his whole game, he's dangerous when he arrives from midfield, but to actually put him at the top is to totally nullify & negate his whole threat.

    This idea that the strikers have all failed is a bit of a fallacy for me. Beckford has not been given a proper chance, whenever he has, he's looked lively and took up good positions, he's only ever really been brought off the bench when we're chasing a result, which isn't a fair way to judge him.

    And Moyes has quite clearly just got a personal problem with Yakubu. He had a great run in the side in our one decent spell of the season so far, in October, and was inexplicably dropped, and has since just had scraps here and there off the bench with Beckford.

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't feel that west ham should have sacked zola in the first place so the fact that grant is struggling does not surprise me, zola was building the foundations of an attractive attacking team with grit and determination in the middle of the park thru scott parker and behrami who was immense in the second half of last season so the fact that zola was sacked was a poor choice and now they will face the repercussions. Everton are just missing something, one little change that will completely reverse their season and i dont think that changing the manager will hav a possitive effect on the players as he has there complete respect and they play 4 him, were saha 2 stay fit they wud hav a 20 goal striker along with yakubu and beckford who ar also natural goalscorers, if arteta can re find his form then that will b the spark that changes the team as everything creative flows through him and pienaar.

  • Comment number 14.

    oh yeh and cifarreto you ar the prime example of a naive fan, ar u forgetting how important pienarr has been 2 ur team he and arteta ar the most vital players, the ones you shud b having a go at ar neville who offers nothing more that some experience he cant run or pass or do anything, if pienaar plays then so does the team, he is a fighter who is good on the ball and can go past people and was vital to south africa in the world cup so cut him c=sum slack and look at ur other players that ar lettin u down

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the striking difference between Moyes and the managers whom several posters here mention as those able to take a club to the "next level" is that Moyes has had virtually no funds available. He is indeed a poor man's SAF simply because his club is, in comparison with the clubs at the top, poor.

    He has done an amazing job in keeping Everton where they are. Now that even more money has flooded the tranfer market, inflating player prices, player salaries, and making it more likely good players will leave for good money (as there are more clubs offering good money), his job has become even harder. It's not a question of being stale. He is fighting an uphill battle: he started in uneven conditions, and those conditions are only becoming worse. Every transfer window he says what he would like, he doesn't get it, and still people expect Everton to push into top6, or they'd say that Everton are treading water and maybe should consider change. Everton will not permanently break into top6 unless they get a palpable change in funding. Even as "little" as 10-15 mil extra in every transfer window may do. But until that happens, you may as well move a SAF clone there, and it won't make a difference.

    For those arguing that maybe a change of manager is in order, look at what it did at Villa. Everything is falling apart. That's what Everton are in for once Moyes leaves. But give him a season or two, and after some scrounging he'll come up with a decent side and overachieve yet again.

    As for Grant: the jury is still out. He seems somehow able to conjure results when his back really is against the wall, so he may hang on to Premiership - and his job - yet. But I am still not entirely convinced he is a great manager, or a manager who's clubs will ever play great/exciting football.

  • Comment number 16.

    4. At 09:51am on 29 Dec 2010, Captain Cook. Nicely said (written)
    Good blog Phil.
    I would like to add West Ham seem to have some dead wood (Boa Morte, Dyer, Benni McCarthy,Tal Ben-Haim ) at the club.
    I think that with key players Noble, Collison and Hitzlsperger are to return we are good enough for the prem. But not enough strength in depth.
    Also that instead of spending excess money on new players in January window I would rather we saved the cash and invested in youth squad which will give us a better return on our investment in the future. If we cannot stay up.
    West Ham can score goals, but we seem to be leaking too many. which costing us dearly.
    I am a massive fan of Owen his goal ratio is brilliant but he is to injury prone a little like Dyer and Bellamy before him (we do not need that). I'd rather have Beckford.

  • Comment number 17.

    I still expect West ham to be relegated this season

    West ham have got the wrong manager
    West ham must sack Grant and replace him with Hughton or Benitez
    Both of them are better managers than Grant

    Grant was at Portsmouth last season and they went down and the same will happen with West ham if they keep Grant as manager

  • Comment number 18.

    Cifaretto i agree that Arteta has been used to deep under orders but a quality footballer will find a way to influence the game, as much as i love Arteta he needs to improve and imo has been a shadow of the player he can be. Dont agree with your comments regarding Piennar at all, yes he should put more crosses in and could do with adding goals to his game, but you wont find many wide midfielders who score enough goals in the Premier League. When Arteta was injured Piennar picked up the mantle and for long periods looked like he was the only Everton player capable of creating anything. Its no suprise that most of Evertons best attacking play comes from Baines and Piennar down the left. Piennar hardly ever loses the ball and his use of his body to shield the ball and win a large number of freekicks is excellent for a player of his size. You simply dont let quality players leave for nothing plus players like Saha, Yakubu and Felliani arguably all earn more than Piennar with none of them justifying it on current form. Piennar's two weak points have been picked up on but the rest of his game imo is top draw and many dont realise how hard he works and the effort he puts in during a game which is second to none on the Everton team and goes unnoticed much of the time. I agree that Beckford has not had a run of games but i cannot see him playing upfront on his own and being a big success as playing with his back to goal does not look to suit him, this role is difficult for the best strikers in the world and very few have success playing it. Given a partner imo Beckford will get goals i dont mind strikers missing chances and worry when there not in the positions however its unlikely Moyes will start with two upfront even at Goodison. You also make another good point regarding Yakubu who after battling his way into some kind of form and shape got his goal against Stoke and was then dropped when we were hoping he would go on a goalscoring run.

  • Comment number 19.

    Wavertree, rather than just damn WHU, be objective. The Toffees have no cutting edge, whilst dominating possession at times yesterday, created very few chances, so why have three strikers on the bench? As for the 'Feed The Yak' chant, I would say he'd already had one too many portions of turkey, plum duff & mince pies already (with only Benni McCarthy outdoing him there)!

    WHU have only been in trouble for 50% of the six seasons up since the last promotion. Admittedly, survival was only guaranteed by Pompey, the Clarets & the Tigers being pretty abject last season, and should Wolves be beaten on Saturday, still a big ask, only one team is certain to be below WHU as 2011 starts.

    However, as the New Year dawns, some teams will suffer from the hectic festive schedule, and a lack of points gained, thus getting sucked into the relegation melee. Whilst only seeing Everton a couple of times per season, unless Moyes can acquire a quality striker in the window (since he obviously doesn't have much faith in your present cohort), the 'lead balloon' tag could well apply to you lot, and a relegation fight be in the offing (again on yesterday's evidence).

    Overall, the moral of this post is worry about your own patch, and let others tend their's, for good or bad!

  • Comment number 20.

    --- Parker deserves a more high-profile stage at international level and to watch him in action makes England coach Fabio Capello's decision to ignore his claims ---

    This reminds me of season 1972/73, when the many outstanding performances of Bryan `Pop` Robson were totally ignored by Sir Alf Ramsey. He had a brilliant season at West Ham and scored a shedload of goals, but never came anywhere near being selected for his country!

  • Comment number 21.

    Good article appreciate something based on teams outside the top six! Firstly, West Ham tradional team that i really hope do enough to stay up, they must keep hold of Scott Parker (who should be in the England team.. miles better than Gareth Barry, what does he even bring to any team he plays for?!) I do feel that a creative midfielder and some strenght at the back may need to be aquired in January to ensure top flight football next season. I do think Grant is a good manager i just think his calm unfaised attitude doesn't sit well with the passions of a club like West Ham? Still hope they stay up! Onto Everton, i feel really sorry for Moyes its impossible to keep battling at the top without ALOT of transfer money and has he had any?! With out investment im affraid i see them staying midtable for seasons to come much like teams like Sunderland and Blackburn. Not a bad thing though teams like West Ham would jump at that if offered to them!

  • Comment number 22.

    Stretching the journalistic license to the extreme again Phil...

    "Save Our Season" was the owners program to get the supporters into the ground to fill the masses of empty away fans seats, nothing to do with the manager. There was a rumour that the mini bus carrying the Wigan faithful had run out of chipfat on the A1.

    I have read about the three/ four/ five games to save Grants job, but I have never seen a quote to confirm it, since you are claiming it as a BBC comment, would you mind posting your source, and offering us a quote.


  • Comment number 23.

    Nice blog Phil.

    I totally agree with aslongastheyqualify. Moyes is a quality manager who has taken an inherited mediocre team and turned them into a team who expect to challenge for European qualification. When Moyes took over at Everton, the supporters were looking for someone to turn them from Relegation Flirters into a team who could take them back to their 70's/80's heyday.
    Moyes has done a fantastic job to get the team where they are now and the level of expectation, not just from the supporters, but the country as a whole; that Everton will challenge the top six is testament to the job he has done.
    If Moyes has the funds that SAF has at his disposal, couple the sort of signings that Man U have made over the last few years with the current youngsters at Everton and you would be looking at top four challengers. I also believe that Beckford will come good once he has adapted to the quality of the PL. He has just jumped two divisions, he has undoubted quality and once he gets the confidence of a couple of goals from the starting team, he will be a 20 goal a season striker.

    West Ham have a good manager, although I agree with some of the selection decisions brought up. Why Boa Morte and Spencer are still put in the team ahead of other players is beyond me and why Cole was dropped to the bench after scoring two goals would confuse Stephen Hawkings. Couple the two goals with the fact that Everton had a lightweight Right Back filling in at Centre Back and Cole should have been straight in the team and told to get at Hibbert.
    West Ham need some confidence, they showed in the first half after they scored that they can play some football. The West Ham who played after the first goal were the complete opposite to the team who played after Everton had scored.

    Maybe if West Ham had a bit more confidence they wouldn't be struggling to get themselves up the table and if Everton's strikers had the same confidence Everton would be looking to cement their top 6 position.

    This weekend could shape the year ahead for both teams

  • Comment number 24.

    i have recently wrote an article about Avram Grant I honestly believe Avram grant is a class manager please have a read

  • Comment number 25.

    no matter what happened in these 3 games grant is not good enough for the job. we were atrotious in all 3 matches just there was luck on our side where we haven't had any all season.

    blackburn we played poorly against, we were just fortunate they were no better, we were the better side against fulham but didn't exactly play well and again benefitted from a bit of good fortune, and against everton that was our luckiest point of the season.

    5 points gained but nothing's changed, we aren't better organised, we aren't more disciplined, we still don't press enough, and grant doesn't inspire, nor does he create confidence. after a win (eg 4-0 man u, 1-0 spurs [cracking performances too] and 3-1 fulham, we're right back where we were the previous game

    i'd absolutely love to see him replaced with hughton. hughton would be a better immediate replacement, and a more ideal long term boss (with or without relegation, which, looking at our budget, we have to be worried about next season). a good coach, gets his players behind him and to my mind did a very good job at newcastle.

    the problem with this is money - i don't think we can afford to get rid of grant, which is a shame because the long term stability of the club is in poor hands with him as manager, and in 3 years (i hope gold and sullivan are reading :) ) we will be far better off sacking grant now and replacing him (hughton please) than if we keep him.

  • Comment number 26.

    An excellent article which asks important questions of the West Ham owners and fans....well done Barka14..

    The BBC could do worse than employ you as the chief football writer..;)

  • Comment number 27.

    Good article Phil, particularly agree with your comments about Parker.

    The problem many West Ham fans (myself included) have with Grant is one shared by Chelsea fans from his time at Stamford Bridge: aside from picking the team, it doesn't seem as though he has any input.

    Until Wally Downes arrived their was no one giving instructions from the sidelines, and it told in the sense that the players seemed to have no idea what they were meant to be doing.

    I'd also like to banish the myth about West Ham playing attractive football under Grant - admittedly it may be due to the absence of Hitzlsperger, Collison and (latterly) Noble, but their is little in the way of creativity or invention.

    Zola managed to get the team playing well on multiple occasions, and Grant's first move was to get rid of two of the most exciting players from last season (Diamanti and Daprela) and replace them with two of his mates from Portsmouth (Piquionne and Ben-Haim).

    Unfortunately those managers available at the moment are either unlikely to join or, in the case of Allardyce, unlikely to be accepted by the fans. That means we will go down this year, sack Grant in the summer, and try to regroup next season.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wouldn't spend my time writing about a club owned by Sullivan and his profit ideas. Reading though about Everton needing a new manager to take them a level further is laughable.

    Last season, disorientated Villa fans were asking for a new manager and look at Aston Villa now. Has Moyes available £10m in the last 5-6 seasons put together for assemblying a team of his preference to strive for things?

    With Everton's financial situation, another manager would take them to one direction only: does anyone remember the Burnley statement that 'all accountants would like Laws at Burnley'? ...they just sacked him, lying in the 9th position of the Championship.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think martin O' neal will be West Ham Manager very soon..

  • Comment number 30.

    Phil McNulty - David Gold has quite categorically stated that there was no three game ultimatum issued to Avram Grant! Whenever I see the classic line 'BBC Sport understands...', it is a given that someone with an agenda against a particular team/player/manager has decided they want to stir the proverbial.

  • Comment number 31.

    A little off the point of the article but it still continues to surprise me that Scott Parker keeps getting over looked for England, he's a very good footballer and his all round game is first rate - when you compare him to someone like Capello's favourite go too guy Gareth Barry - I can't see what he offers over Parker!

    On the subject of Grant, I like many, don't see what it is that he actually offers (the turn around in form right around the time of the appointment of Wally Downes seem to be too bigger coincidence to over look). Not every manager has to be a top coach - but if he's not then surely he's got to be a good motivator, is Grant that?

  • Comment number 32.

    Wavertreehead where do you got your 'information' from? The year derby got relegated we finished 10th, and when middlesborough got relegated we finished 9th. 3 of the presious 5 seasons west ham have finished in the top half. Not quite flirting with relegation every season

  • Comment number 33.

    Mostly a pretty fair assessment of both teams, but really, isn't it about time you dropped this ridiculous "Three games to save his job" nonsense, which only the beeb seems to know about (or made up) and has been juggled around by a couple of other media outlets to make it best of four.
    The fact is, to have any chance of being effective, the change in management would have to be before Sat. After then, either Grant is back in business, with 7 points from 9, or it will be too late for anyone to pull WH's season back.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can't believe people are complaining about Moyes here. He's working with extremely limited resources and has had to scrape the barrel for transfers for a number of seasons now but has pulled out gems like Cahill, Donovan on loan, Pienaar and Jagielka. I don't think he has ever had the money available to buy a top forward (I know he spent big on Fellaini but he was needed to help plug the gap left by Carsley). Bilyetdinov and Heitinga cost a bit too and have been shaky but overall Moyes has pulled together a very capable side just missing that ruthless finisher to push them up the league this season. I think the Toffees should be thanking their lucky stars that Moyes hasn't grown disillusioned with the situation and left Goodison! Everton fans need only look at Villa to see how difficult it is to replace a manager who had their team fighting for Europa League qualificaion regularly. O' Neill wasn't perfect by any means but he had set his team up effectively and got results which at the end of the day is what fans want. Unlike Moyes though he ran up a huge wage bill and spent a healthy amount in the transfer market so I think that house of cards was on its way down regardless. As I've said David Moyes isn't perfect but he has worked well within pretty tight financial restraints and really when you think about potential replacements I'd imagine Everton fans wouldn't be too keen on the likes of O' Neill, Big Sam or Curbishley!

  • Comment number 35.

    Everton fans are unbelievable.

    They want to think themselves very lucky they don't have bilge like Roy Hodgson in charge at their club.

  • Comment number 36.

    If Moyes doesn't trust his strikers, tell him to get on the phone to Wenger and loan JET. Don't think Fergie would make Macheda available, but Arsenal have several good young prospects who can't be worse than Beckford.


    I don't understand why people criticise Hodgson's work at Liverpool. If the team has performed pretty consistently under two managers, maybe it's not because the managers aren't good enough, but something to do with the players?

  • Comment number 37.


    Because Liverpool fans actually watch the games and can see with our own eyes that he's rubbish.

  • Comment number 38.


    Thing is though, you don't see with your own eyes how good Hodgson is, because he doesn't play. You're inferring it from how well the team plays. The inference that the continued travails of the team are down to two different managers doesn't make much sense when the the playing squad has remained the same.

    Now, Benitez may bear the blame for the quality of the squad, but Hodgson clearly doesn't. He doesn't have a magic wand to wave, so whatever he does will take a season or two to show any effect. It's not like Liverpool are even doing badly at the moment, really. Benitez's one really big mistake was overperforming so much for a couple of seasons - including one very lucky title challenge - that he raised expectations to totally unrealistic levels.

    The popular myth has it that Liverpool's 'decline' from their recent high point was solely due to the sale of Xabi Alonso, but that just doesn't make any sense. No player is that good, and certainly not Alonso - he's a very good player, but no Xavi. In fact, most of what we've seen is the difference between (at best) a team having a really lucky season - injury free, everything going their way - and (now and last season) a team having a really unlucky time - loads of injuries, beach ball goals against them, etc.

    This isn't stuff you can fix by changing managers around every three weeks.

  • Comment number 39.

    Nobody's saying change the manager every three weeks.

    Just change this one.

    He's, as I say, rubbish.

    Bring back Benitez, I say. He should never have been let go of in the first place - his removal and the subsequent kick in the teeth of Hodgson's appointment, were the final two fingers to Liverpool fans from Gillet and Hicks who'd ran the club into the ground.

  • Comment number 40.


    You really believe Benitez was fired rather than walked out? Would you like to buy some magic beans? Compensation was paid alright, but the statements by Benitez and the club were completely ambiguous about which direction it went. One big clue, though: Benitez replaced Liverpool with Inter; Liverpool replaced Benitez with Hodgson.

    Since Benitez walked, Hodgson has cut the spend and kept the team at much the same level. Give him a chance to build his own squad and see what happens. Better that way than to welcome back disloyal Benitez; how spineless would that be?

  • Comment number 41.

    1. Avram Grant hasn't shown any managerial ability in all his time in English football.

    2. David Moyes is a nit - he plays defensive football and hopes to score off set pieces (which they are pretty good at). Every time I've seen Everton try to play 4-4-2 they just get battered - they just don't have the players for it. A mid table team just having a bad time of it that's all.

    3. Hodgson's sole achievement in a major league is a final in the sub-carling cup level Europa league. This comp is a joke. Liverpool's reserves have been playing in it (badly) and cruised through. If he wants to blame the current position on Benitez then surely Hughes has the right to blame Hodgson for how badly Fulham are playing!

    4. Not including Hodgson's Swedish titles (which are worth nothing) Benitez has won more already than all of these managers put together from now until eternity. It is interesting nobody mentions the horrific injuries Inter have had this season and that most of the fans were happy for him to stay. Yes Liverpool tailed off badly last season and he made some bad buys but he is still in a different league to these three.

    European cup, UEFA Cup, Carling Cup and two La Liga titles in your dreams boys!

  • Comment number 42.

    I think that people who criticise Avram Grant's record in management are ignoring what he's actually done.

    He did do well at both Chelsea and Portsmouth.

    You can't blame him for John Terry's slip in Moscow, and one goal in a drawn match in the 07/08 Premier League would have probably seen them be crowned as PL champions that season.

    I know that this is ''ifs and buts'', but it goes to show the small margins between being a PL+CL double winning manager, and someone who gets a lot of flack for ''not achieving anything'' as a manager.

    If you look at the PL table from last season, only counting results after he took over at Portsmouth, then they would have finished 17th and safe. ( obviously ignoring the points deduction, as you can't really blame Grant for that ! ). He also reached the FA Cup final, against the odds.

    Add to that, he's had a successful managerial career in Isreal, including winning titles with Maccabi Haifa ( with a team that included Benayoun and Yakubu ).

    Also, as Israel national manager, he managed to keep Israel undefeated in qualification for the 2006 World Cup, which was quite an achievement, in a group that contained France, Switzerland and Ireland.

    Although he hasn't started off too successfully at West Ham, I think that he should be given more time to see what he can do there. After all, the Hammers being in a relegation battle isn't that surprising, considering that it backs up their form of last season.

  • Comment number 43.

    Love to know who these teams are who battered Everton when Moyes played 4-4-2 Jimsprout? We got tonked by Benfica with a gang of kids after having about 12 first team players injured and the drubbing at the hands of Arsenal had a lot to do with the Lescott situation, but i doubt Moyes played with anything other than one upfront. We certainly are no great side but the record Moyes has gives him the right to try and come threw this difficult patch. You wont find many Evertonians who want to get rid of Moyes, we are frustrated at the moment as we know we are a better side than results especially at Goodison have shown. The one thing Evertonians do understand about Moyes is that he has a tremendous bond with his players and if your not working hard and pulling for the team and the clubs jersey and fans then you wont enjoy your football at Everton and will be shown the door.

  • Comment number 44.

    Re bluenose @43

    Can't remember but it was for a few games a couple of seasons ago, about half way through, against lower end teams but deffo not this season. But it didn't work and Moyes went back to 4-5-1. This must be why he is so resistant to trying it this year, although lots of fans are calling for it.

    I remember him trying combinations of Yakubu, Saha and Jo, and Cahill in centre midfield, and you really struggled.

    I know that's all very vague, but I'm not checking Everton's starting line ups from the last 2 1/2 years.

  • Comment number 45.

    West Ham will go down and lose quality players like Scott Parker, Fredric Piquionne, Rob Green and many more, because these players all need top flight football to get into their national teams. Unless West Ham go unbeaten till the end of the season they cannot hope to stay up.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with the poster who said we should have kept Zola on board. Eitherway, we've got Grant, until he gets fired.

    Personally, I'd prefer Parker to stay out of Capello's lineup as I've still got bitter memories of Dean Ashton's demise, thanks to the England callup, though I'm sure Scotty would love a crack at it.

    A couple of posters also slagged off Freddie Sears' performance. I don't agree. His sweeping, low cross into the box on the counter which Cole couldn't quite connect with was our best chance of the game.

    Wally Ds coaching seems to be coming along. Tomkins has improved greatly and works well with Matt Upson. If we can stop leaking at the back and Cole improves upfront, plus people coming back from injury, we may stay up.

    The Wolves game is the biggy though. It's all about confidence restoration.

  • Comment number 47.

    Having gone from having very few managers in total we've become a club that uses and discards managers staggeringly quickly. To be fair, its not just us, its the game in general as has been indicated in recent weeks by Hughton, who not only got newcastle back into the prem, but was hardly bottom of the table when he was sacked. Then you've got the new ownerships that discard managers at the drop of a hat. Allardyce being not the first victim of this and im sure he wont be the last.

    As to my dear Hammers, much as i would have preferred a Bilic/Di Canio management combo, (or Bilic as manager and keeping Clarke), you give the new guy a chance.

    It seems a strange game we play now of being decisive when enough chances have been given. Hughton for example ousted after what some may class as a poor run, others would consider to be a minor rut whilst sitting pretty in mid-table. West Ham rooted to the foot of the table for most of the season and Avram given chance after chance to give some indication to the fans, players and press that he has an element of managerial nous.

    Harry had the nickname bagpuss, but you got the impression he was too busy analysing the game and plotting tactics and the HT talk to smile. On the touchline Avram looks largely disinterested and you just cant imagine there being any difference in the dressing room. A number of Chelsea and Pompey players have spoken about how quiet and withdrawn he seems to be in the dressing room. Not the type to fire up the players then. No spark or speech from the dressing room, so its down to the pitch. Here we have a player who has openly stated his desire to no longer play for us and for reasons unknown, he is allowed to keep the captain's armband. Surely you want a vocal player who is in tune with the will to win. Upson has been a good player for us, but this season has looked rather poor and Tomkins has been picking up the slack alot.

    After every single game this season, Grant has spoken to the press about how delighted he is with the spirit and performance etc. We could have lost 94-0 and not touched the ball except for kickoff and Grant would have been delighted and pleased with the spirit. Frankly i don't think he's on this planet.

    There are those that 'protect' their players if there is room to sway opinion that someone had an off day or decisions went against us. yes, we've had a number of dodgy decisions ruling out clear goals and penalties this season, but that does not placate the fact that by and large the performances as a unit have been very poor for much of the season.
    Grant's comment about being vindicated for not changing the formation after the Wigan game was equally farcical as he blatantly had changed the team by actually having 2 strikers. As soon as the win was out of the way, we reverted back and started losing again. The Fulham game, bit shakey at the start then suddenly we're up and away. Have we turned the corner? No, even a plethora of pundits and pro's are flummoxed by the changes to team that had won so well. 2-goal hero Cole dropped to bench (very petty) and the defence that had been starting to look good, ruined with the removal of two in-form players, replaced by someone just returning from injury and one who is not in-form. Those who were dropped were not even on the bench. I'm not going to Boa-bash as he's looked a bit better, but bringing him straight back after suspension when Stanislas had looked a lot better is a joke.

    So what now for us eternally tormented Hammer's fans? Will we get rid of Avram in time to give a new manager chance to stamp some authority and buy/sell to make it his team, or will we trundle on with these lacklustre efforts and make this dubious signings mentioned in the press?
    Despite numerous midfielders at present and overflowing when Noble, Hitz and Collison return, Grant says we need more MF depth. So, to Sidwell who flopped at Chelsea and couldn't get into the Villa team. Ah but we really need a striker, a poacher for the 'easy' ones. Owen because of our history of buying injury-plagued players? Just when we all thought we were safe after those Summer rumours of us signing the slow and McCarthy-esque Everton striker for a stupidly high fee Yakubu crops up again. If we have 6-8mil to spend lets get a proven quality striker, not someone worth 50p with the speed and striking potency of Benni McCarthy.

    Come on West Ham, lets at least give this whole 'staying up' lark a concerted effort ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    West Ham will stay up if in January they succeed in acquiring the players that have been linked with the club in the last month. The Marathon that is the Premier League season is only half way through and it's symptomatic of some of this country's less intelligent qualities when people speculate, ad nauseam, at such an early stage and invariably base it on a club's performance in the one or two most recent games.

    Serious Football

  • Comment number 49.

    With Gold and Sullivan in place as debt holders West Ham will continue to decline. They publicly undermined Zola and the team, leading to the disgraceful sacking of a manager who kept the club in the Premier League. If you recall, they publically put the first team squad up for sale and demanded salary cuts to fund the offer to Van Nistleroy of £100,000 a week. Similiar hair brained schemes costing even more were launched to try and recruit Beckham and Henry. The Olympic Stadium bid with Athletics track and facilities to be retained, is a debacle waiting to happen. Not economically viable, and for a club like West Ham culturally bankrupt. In recent weeks Sullivan and Gold have undermined Avram Grant with their shambolic ultimatums. Beckham is again being touted as a replacement player coach. I am sure that Avram will be quite relieved when he eventually makes his exit.

  • Comment number 50.

    for the first time this season my computer mouse had difficulty in locating "west ham" in the premiership table so after another home win against Wolves we can safely say that Grant will stay and have some funds at least to strengthen the squad.
    The situation is still perilous and the team have played a gane or two more than their close table neighbours so Gold and Sullivan will definitely deal in the market this January. If they can get 3 "spine" players (back/midfield and striker) then they can off load some dead weight as soon as possible. I would look to get as nuch as possible for Cole, Upson or Gabbidon (Gabbidon preferably 'cos of his prone to injury) and Green where the team has more than capable cover.
    With the German midfileder making progress along with Collison then the clearout can begin...why oh why did they extend Boa Morte's contract---no one will want someone who a) cannot score and b) doesn;t track back when as too often is the case he misdirects a pass, gets caught in possession or trips over his own feet! Goodbye Mr Sicknote Dyer too, out of contract at the season end. Mr Sicknote the second Behrami should also go, another who promised much, occassionally flattering to deceive---at least me might get a fair bit for him. Meantime all hammers fans....keep the tin hat on, 'cos the feason finale is going to test us all! C'mon you irons!


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