Grant denies poaching Pompey's staff

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The Independent Football

Avram Grant, the West Ham United manager, has reacted strongly after being criticised by Steve Cotterill for recruiting staff from Portsmouth following their relegation from the Premier League.

Grant has appointed first-team coach Paul Groves and goalkeeper expert David Coles since leaving Fratton Park and taking up his new position at Upton Park.

Frederic Piquionne and Tal Ben Haim have also signed for Grant after playing for him last season, and Cotterill, who succeeded Grant at Portsmouth, said he expected one of his video analysts to leave next. But Grant said: "I don't know what Steve is talking about, he does not know the facts. The fact is the players were out of contract and did not belong to Portsmouth.

"Steve needs to ask his owners what's happening as I don't think even he knows. He needs to think about the team now and not deal with things he does not understand."

Having fought off Tottenham's summer advances for England midfielder Scott Parker, Grant is eager to keep hold of his entire stable of England internationals, including striker Carlton Cole and the defender Matthew Upson.

"Ninety per cent of the squad will stay and Matthew is in that 90 per cent who will stay here. We like him, he's good for us and a good captain and he will stay. Scott will play tomorrow [against Bolton] and will be at West Ham in the years to come. We came here to make the new season and the next seasons better than before."

Grant is also keen to add to a squad whose limitations were exposed in a 3-0 battering by Aston Villa on the opening day. "We didn't win at Aston Villa and we didn't play well but that belongs in the past," he said. "I hope we will be busy [before the transfer window closes] because we want the squad to be stronger.

"To do this we need players because we don't have a few players for some positions. We will try to do it. The resources of the club and the financial situation is not so good, so we have to think about that also.

The challenge at West Ham is exciting and it is the reason I came here."