Grant clings to West Ham job as alternatives prove elusive


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The Independent Football

Avram Grant made a public apology to West Ham United supporters yesterday for his side's 5-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Wednesday night as the club's owners find themselves once again unable to make a change with no viable alternative to the Israeli and his faltering regime.

The manager's press conference scheduled for today was cancelled by the club who play Barnsley tomorrow in the FA Cup third round but the major obstacle to the removal of Grant, whose team are at the bottom of the Premier League again, is still the lack of any alternative who could be relied upon to steer them away from relegation.

The Queen's Park Rangers manager, Neil Warnock, who was approached during the summer, is not interested in taking the job at Upton Park. Sam Allardyce is still on holiday in the Middle East since his sacking by Blackburn Rovers last month and Allardyce's preference would be for Aston Villa if the job was to become available.

The club are still actively pursuing transfer targets in this transfer window to address their chronic injury problems although they have pulled out of the deal to sign Steven Sidwell. They are interested in Birmingham City's 19-year-old midfielder Jordon Mutch, recently on loan at Watford, although they are not close to any deal for the player who is out of contract in the summer.

The club's owners David Gold and David Sullivan have some breathing space with the Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Birmingham on Tuesday but there is no imminent sense that Grant will be sacked before the home game against Arsenal a week tomorrow. That is followed by away Premier League games at Everton and Blackpool either side of the second leg against Birmingham.

The board are also clinging to the fact that only seven points separate West Ham, in the last place in the League, and Stoke City in 10th. There is also great sympathy towards Grant within the club that he has been unable to train and prepare properly because of the number of injuries that have befallen his players.

In his email to supporters, Grant said that he would make "no excuses" for the performance at St James' Park but urged fans to remember the run of eight points from a possible 12 before the Newcastle game. Grant said: "Everything went wrong last night but we must remember the form shown in four previous matches unbeaten. Of course we are not happy with the performance and not happy with the result, but we did well before now and we will get back to that.

"It is difficult to explain what happened. It was a bad day at the office. Of course, we are disappointed to be back at the bottom but all that matters is where we will be at the end of the season. Our points situation has improved with the teams around us.

"It is really frustrating because we had a good Christmas and New Year period but this is football. Everything we did went wrong and everything they did came off. We didn't play like we had before when we put pressure on opponents and passed the ball well.

"I am sorry for those of you who came a long way. I am disappointed for you to see that performance after what we had given you in the previous two games. We will return to that form this week – I am certain."

Grant at Upton Park

Odds to be next manager sacked: 9/4

Aston Villa record: P 26 W 8 D 8 L 10

League pos: 20th Appointed: 3 June 2010

Next game: Barnsley (h), tomorrow

Next league game: Arsenal (h), 15 Jan