West Ham give their backing to Grant... for now
West Ham's disastrous search for a new manager ended yesterday with the club issuing a public show of support for Avram Grant — for the time being — after Martin O'Neill and Sam Allardyce both signalled they were not interested in taking over the Premier League's bottom-placed club.
After four days in which Grant had seemed fatally undermined, especially when he had appeared to be a lame duck during his side's defeat to Arsenal on Saturday, the club issued a brief statement in support of their manager.
“The club are committed to retaining Avram Grant as manager and have identified potential transfer targets to give us the best possible chance of retaining Premier League status.”
In the meantime, the club's owners also raised their efforts to off-load Benni McCarthy, the club's most embarrassing signing of the last 12 months, to Queens Park Rangers.
The South African, who unaccountably was given a two and a half year contract last January and is yet to score a goal for West Ham, played yesterday for QPR reserves against their Spurs counterparts at Spurs' Chigwell training ground.
The club also said that they intended to take legal action against allegations that vice-chairman Karren Brady had tried to encourage players to undermine Grant.
Brady has in the past made no secret of the fact that it was not her choice to appoint Grant but neither she nor the club's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan have been able to find a viable alternative. It fell to Sullivan to claim that Grant had the board's backing and that it was not simply a case of their being no viable alternative. Sullivan said: “The entire board is 100 per cent behind Avram. He is a really decent person who deserves our support.
“West Ham United is a club that does the right thing and the right thing at this time is to support the manager. We will do all we can to bring in players over the next 12 days and, once we have achieved that, we hope it will keep us up. I urge all supporters to rally behind the club at this difficult time.”
Having been offered a short-term deal until the end of the season, O'Neill began having reservations about taking the West Ham job on Saturday when it became public knowledge that he was on the brink of succeeding Grant.
Since then he has backed away from the offer. Allardyce was regarded as a non-starter and will wait until the summer to assess his options.