Grant: enemy within is hurting us
West Ham United 2 Barnsley 0
Avram Grant believes his reign is being destabilised from "inside the club". The West Ham United manager is not naming any names, but feels there is at least one enemy within making his job that much more difficult as the players are affected by the rumours of his impending departure.
"When the rumours are coming from inside the club it doesn't create much stability," he said. "If you don't have stability you can't do your job the same. Of course, I know where the rumours come from and I know there's people trying to hurt the club. I can solve it, but not now."
The Israeli made his claims after seeing his side advance into the FA Cup fourth round. Victory over Barnsley was a boost for Grant, yet he will be aware that any lifeline may prove all too short. Tomorrow West Ham host Birmingham City in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final and the next day there is a board meeting where his position will supposedly be discussed.
The question must be, is he being fully backed now? Karren Brady's column in The Sun on Saturday suggested not. The vice-chairman revealed the club blocked the signing of the midfielder Steve Sidwell, despite Grant thinking it was a done deal.
"Maybe I will have a column in a newspaper and say what I think," responded Grant when asked about Brady. "All the things I have to say to the people at the club, I say to them directly." Grant added that, although "we don't have a problem", he does not talk with Brady but with the owners, David Sullivan and David Gold.
All in all, it should make for a very interesting meeting, although should West Ham have prevailed the night before it will have meant four victories from their last seven games. Even allowing for the fact that his side are bottom of the Premier League they are only two points off 14th place. Surely Grant could not be sacked in that scenario? The whispers scream otherwise.
As they try to line up a replacement, he will be a dead man walking on the road to Wembley. "Everyone tries to analyse where the rumours are coming from," Grant said. "But when you do that you're not in the right focus. We are not Sherlock Holmes – we don't want to put our energy on this."
Grant thinks he has what it takes to survive. His wish is to overlook last week's 5-0 defeat at Newcastle and recognise the form flanking that. "I'm a manager and rumours are part of the job," he said. "People need to understand what we are dealing with here. This period has been the best of our season. OK, we slipped up at Newcastle but we had a good game today."
Indeed, but for the visiting goalkeeper, Luke Steele, a young West Ham side would have had a more comfortable cushion to take into the final minute than Jonathan Spector's well-taken goal. As it was, in the final seconds Adam Hammill came within a crossbar of earning Barnsley a replay. The rebound was worked up the pitch for Frédéric Piquionne to score, giving Grant some much-needed relief.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Reid, Faubert, Boa Morte; Barrera, Spector, Noble, Hines (Edgar, 89); Nouble (Piquionne, 83), Obinna (Parker, 76). Substitutes not used Boffin (gk), Upson, Sears, Spence.
Barnsley (4-4-1-1): Steele; Hassell, Shackell, Foster, Hill; Trippier (O'Brien, 69), Doyle, Arismendi (Colace, 77), Hammill; Lovre (Butterfield 56); O'Connor. Substitutes not used Preece (gk), Morales Neumann, Gray, Bennett.
Man of the match Steele. Match rating 6/10.
Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire). Att 32,159.
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