Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Fall guy Grant not the only one to blame for West Ham’s mess

By Alan Green

Published 17/05/2011

Moving on: Avram Grant has already departed West Ham, and Scott Parker will surely follow in the summer
Moving on: Avram Grant has already departed West Ham, and Scott Parker will surely follow in the summer

West Ham’s owners always know how to act properly, don’t they? It may have been a pathetic attempt to persuade us they’re men of action but sacking Avram Grant barely an hour after the pivotal defeat at Wigan was utterly futile.

Ever heard the one about the stable door and the horse that’s already bolted?

As always, Grant reacted with the utmost dignity.

He even had to be persuaded by the players to go home on the team coach.

You winced hearing his post-match interviews sensing the obvious pain he was enduring. Even if you don’t rate him as a manager, it’s impossible to dislike him as a man.

But, of course, he accepts and deserves a large part of the blame.

He was a poor choice right from the start: again, that’s the owners’ fault. And it was they too who made the appallingly ham-fisted attempt to replace Grant with Martin O’Neill back in January.

I remember Grant throwing his Hammers’ scarf into the crowd after the home defeat by Arsenal.

He thought he was out then. He should have been.

Had O’Neill come in or even the manager whose ‘football’ I love to dislike, Sam Allardyce, I’m convinced West Ham would have stayed up.

Unfortunately, Grant wasn’t up to it.

There was no consistency in the team’s formation or in its attacking line-up. And I heard horror stories about how things were in training where Grant had a nickname: ‘The Imposter’. Players feigned minor injuries to duck out or slopped off if they heard they weren’t in the team.

So, yes, they also deserve some stick, most of them do with the honorable exception of Parker who must live with the distinction of being Footballer of the Year playing for a team that got relegated.

There’ll be a mad rush to sign him. He’s certainly someone Arsene Wenger should be after if, as seems likely, Fabregas and Nasri depart Arsenal.

I feel so sorry for the West Ham fans, particularly the ones deluded by the thought that, after all, Gold and Sullivan are just like themselves: East End boys, ‘Hammers till they die’.

I think I’d rather be in bed with the Devil!

With so many players heading out of the door, West Ham will find it far from easy, whoever’s put in charge, mounting a promotion challenge next season.

And, before you know it, they’ll need to buy binoculars to be able to see the pitch when they move into the Olympic Stadium, a course of action that few of the club’s supporters aside from the owners actually agree with.

I will say this in agreement with Grant: West Ham are unlucky to go down in a very strange season.

With one game still to play, they’re only a point short of the total they managed last season. And no-one, hand on heart, could say that any of the clubs still threatened by relegation is as bad as Portsmouth, Hull or Burnley were.

There’ll be further tears shed on Sunday.

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