Grant 'excited by challenge' as he takes over at West Ham
Upton Park in positive mood as new manager arrives, despite imminent clear-out of players
From his two previous jobs in England Avram Grant would appear ideally suited to be the new West Ham manager, as was confirmed yesterday. At Chelsea, he learnt how to cope with owners who do not restrict themselves to glad-handing in the directors' lounge, while over the past six months at Portsmouth, he showed he could cope without having any money.
David Gold, the co-owner of West Ham, went so far yesterday as to describe Grant as a " perfect fit" for the club. What he meant was that the 55-year-old Israeli had the experience to turn the side around after a difficult season when they only just avoided relegation from the Premier League. However, Grant will also have the nous to cope with what is likely to be a difficult situation at Upton Park.
"I have to say that, having met Avram and spent some time with him, we have got our man. He is a perfect fit," Gold said. "We needed experience and stability. He's a footballing man and, quite frankly, his reputation speaks for itself. He has a great sense of humour and I'm sure the players will relate to him and the fans will warm to him."
Grant has signed a four-year deal with West Ham and will get started later in the month once he has received a work permit. It is thought that Steve Clarke, assistant to his predecessor Gianfranco Zola, will have left the club by then, but the first-team coach, Kevin Keen, is expected to remain.
The new manager certainly faces a busy summer. He arrives with West Ham estimated to be £110m in debt after the profligacy of the previous Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson regime, and with Gold and co-chairman David Sullivan having announced that offers will be considered for all of the first-team squad, bar captain Scott Parker.
Nevertheless Grant, who managed a number of club sides in Israel before becoming coach of the national side for four years, is relishing the opportunity. "I'm proud and honoured to be the manager of West Ham. It's an exciting challenge and I'm ready to do my best," he said. "West Ham is a fantastic club with great fans and a history that is respected around the world.
"I'm already looking forward to getting to work with my players in July and preparing for the new season."
Given West Ham's predicament, he will be tasked with rebuilding the side while also showing a substantial profit on his transfer dealings. The club's two representatives in the England squad, goalkeeper Robert Green and defender Matthew Upson, are likely to be sold when they return from South Africa, especially with Upson about to enter the last year of his contract.
Striker Carlton Cole has also attracted considerable interest, with Stoke expected to offer £12m for him – a sum that West Ham would find difficult to turn down.
Against that, Sullivan recently claimed that they were putting together a lucrative package to tempt Thierry Henry back to the Premier League when he leaves Barcelona this summer.
Sullivan was certainly feeling upbeat yesterday. "I'm delighted to welcome Avram to West Ham and am confident he will prove a success," he said. "We have taken our time over this appointment and are certain we have got the right man. We are all looking forward to next season with new players coming in, and Avram's arrival is just the latest reason for real optimism."
In the long term, those reasons are not hard to find, West Ham are an established Premier League club with a loyal fan base and a number of promising youngsters coming through. It might be the next 18 to 24 months that Grant finds testing.
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