Cloud builds over Grant but the storm doesn't break
Sunday 16 January 2011
Avram Grant's position was still shrouded in confusion last night after the embattled West Ham manager gave a quixotic response to rumours of his impending dismissal. Grant arrived at Upton Park yesterday amid fevered speculation that he would be fired after the tea-time match with Arsenal. Yet after his team meekly surrendered to a 3-0 defeat he largely evaded the issue.
Asked outright if he was to be fired he replied: "Why do you ask me this question? You need to ask the person who gave you the rumours. Ask the source." Asked if he was still manager he said: "I am speaking to you." Grant added he had not spoken to the club's owners about his position. As for the apparently valedictory act of throwing his "lucky" scarf to the crowd after the game he said: "I did it at the last game, I always throw my scarf to children. [I did it because] it was emotional to see how supportive the supporters were after we lose three-zero."
Grant eventually addressed the issue admitting with some feeling the speculation "does not help". He added: "I have my job to do. I understand the questions. I am doing my job.
"In a club like West Ham and with what happened last year the club is not in a good situation. The manager's job is to make the club better even though we are in the bottom. I think we are doing the right things if you look at the last few weeks.
"I am very happy with the boys today, there are not many times you are happy when you lose but we play without so many players against a very good team. We are not a team who play like they are in the bottom."
Grant said he would speaking to the owners about new players. "They know my ideas. We have brought Wayne Bridge, OK I wanted Sidwell very much but we couldn't do it." When it was pointed out to him that Karren Brady, the managing director, had said in her newspaper column that the club had knocked down the Sidwell bid as they did not think he was needed – despite the club's midfield injury crisis – Grant said: "I will not answer about other people. The owners are trying to bring in players."
Arsène Wenger said he felt for his counterpart. "I have big sympathy for Avram Grant, our job is difficult enough without putting more problems on your back. When there is speculation about a job your words [to the players] have less power."
He did not, however, feel the uncertainty over Grant's position affected the result. "They were affected first by the quality of our performance," he said. "It became a pretty comprehensive victory because we had a very strong first half, that affected West Ham's morale and in the second half West Ham did not put us under pressure. They did not get out of their half and we looked more likely to score the third goal than concede."
As for Arsenal's title prospects Wenger said: "It is in our hands as we play all the big teams at home, it is down to us. We have done our job today so we can watch [Tottenham v Manchester United] relaxed. It's been a busy week but we started strongly and remained strong.
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