Under pressure West Ham boss Avram Grant appears to be close to the point of being sacked by the club’s board following his side’s 3-0 home defeat at the hands of London rivals Arsenal.
Even before the match today there was already talk that Martin O’Neil, formally of Aston Villa, Celtic, and Leicester City, was being lined up to take the position of manager as the club find themselves in rock bottom place in the Premier League. The Hammers has won just four matches out of 22 in the league before today’s evening kick-off, and long before Robin van Persie slotted his second, and his club’s third, goal of the match from the penalty spot it was clear that this was to be Grant’s 11th loss of a Premier League season that has seen West Ham claim 20 points so far this term.
Only once has the club that was bottom of the table at Christmas, as West Ham were this time out, managed to stave of the threat of relegation. That was during the 2004/5 season when West Bromwich Albion stayed up on the final day of the season by a solitary point. No such comeback looks on the card based on the Claret and Blue’s current from, which has seen them win just one of their last five matches at Upton Park.
Grant may have guided the club to the semi-finals of this season’s League Cup, where they currently lead Birmingham City 2-1 after the first leg, but this alone will not be enough to save the Israeli from the chop. Nor will his past record, which has seen him win the League Cup during his tenure as Chelsea manager as well as seeing the Blues come within a kick of winning the Champions League final before losing to Manchester United on sudden death penalties.
Although Grant has been without a raft of first team players for period throughout this season due to injury, including Thomas Hitzlsperger, Kieron Dyer, Carlton Cole, and Mark Noble, this is unlikely to help his cause. The one issue which may help Grant, who also saw Portsmouth suffer relegation under his leadership last season, is that David Sullivan and David Gold, the club’s owners, may not have the funds needed to pay him off.
This should not even be an issue however, as for the millions of pounds it could cost to have Grant leave his position early, it would surely cost the club more if they were to suffer relegation to the Championship. It has already been suggested that, were the club to look likely to be relegated, this would reflect badly upon them when the decision is made in the coming weeks as to who will take up residence in London’s Olympic Stadium following the 2012 Olympics.
Whatever the board’s decision it needs to be a swift one so as to either give whoever gets the unenviable task of keeping one of England’s great footballing clubs’ in the Premier League enough time to properly attempt such a task, or to allow Grant to sleep easily so that he can focus fully on the job in hand.