Grant lays down the law: I won't tolerate owners' interference

Avram Grant, the new West Ham United manager, did his best to straight-bat all questions fired his way on his first official appearance at Upton Park yesterday but broke into a fit of the giggles when asked whether striker Benni McCarthy, who admits to carrying a few extra pounds, was looking hungry in training.

"That's a good one. You see that I lost a lot of kilos. It's a good example for Benni, I did it for him," Grant said.

It was a rare moment of levity from Grant who seemed to be determined to spend his regulation half-hour with the media saying as little as possible. As we know from his previous spells in charge at Chelsea and Portsmouth, this is not a manager who is going to win over the public by dispensing pearls of wisdom to the media.

The main thrust of Grant's message was that he will be the man making the footballing decisions at the club, and not the Hammers' outspoken co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.

Grant, 55, has signed a four-year deal with the two Davids, despite the fact that the club's joint chairmen persistently undermined the previous manager, Gianfranco Zola, with their almost daily comments on team affairs. Since Zola departed, Sullivan and Gold, who between them own 60 per cent of the club, have spoken regularly of their so-far unsuccessful attempts to sign players such as Thierry Henry, Miroslav Klose and Joe Cole. To call them "hands-on" is something of an understatement, yet Grant appeared unmoved by the pair's reputation for interfering.

"They have just hired me but so far it is great. They are so passionate about the club. Our relationship is good and, of course, I am the manager and I pick the players and the squad and they know that," Grant said.

"As long as I am the manager, I'm taking the decisions and I'm responsible for this. What's happened in the past, happened in the past, I will judge everything from now.

"I cannot work in a team that someone else will decide about the players and where it would not be my responsibility. I like the pressure and I like the responsibility. All the football issues are my responsibility and I have the final word."

Grant inherits a side that finished 17th in the Premier League last season, and a first-team squad that Sullivan put up for sale recently in its entirety, aside from captain Scott Parker. The Israeli attempted to build bridges by saying all players would return for the new season with the slate wiped clean, and the stresses of last season forgotten. He stated, however, that he only wants players at the club who are keen to be there, a dig perhaps at England defender Matthew Upson, who has one year left on his contract.

The manager said: "We need to do everything to keep a player like Upson. But also, the West Ham fans deserve players who want to play for the club. I only want players who want to play because I think we will have a great future. It will be good for us and good for the players. Of course, Matthew is one of them."

Grant's appointment has divided opinion among West Ham supporters. Some believe he is a sensible, experienced manager who instructs his teams to play attractive, attacking football. Others say he is dull and uninspiring, a limited manager whose Portsmouth side finished 16 points behind West Ham last season, or seven points if you ignore their nine-point penalty for going into administration.

At least he shares supporters' desire to see a return to the glory days. Grant spoke yesterday of how he watched West Ham in the early 1970s under their legendary manager Ron Greenwood.

"It was exciting for me to be here as this club had a tradition of football and it was a few years after they had players that had won the World Cup," he said. "West Ham were the key players in the tournament. It was just exciting to be here in the training ground."

If Grant proves to be half as good as Greenwood, then it will have been an inspired appointment by Gold and Sullivan. Stand or fall, however, Grant is determined that things will be done his way.

Sublime, ridiculous, realistic: West Ham's targets so far

Thierry Henry

Just weeks after protesting how in debt they were, West Ham won headlines by offering the French striker £75,000 a week in a two-year contract to return to the Premier League. However, following his departure from Barcelona, Henry looks to be heading to New York.



Miroslav Klose

Last month, the Hammers were in talks to take the 32-year-old striker off Bayern Munich's hands. But as co-owner David Sullivan said: "We had a deal in place before the World Cup, after he had a bad season in Germany. However, as a result of what he has done at the World Cup, it's unlikely to happen."

Neymar

The 18-year-old Santos wunderkind, controversially omitted from the Brazil squad for the World Cup, has been linked this week with a £16m move to east London. Chelsea and Real Madrid are also reported to be interested in the striker but are less likely to offer him guaranteed first-team football.



Frédéric Piquionne

Slightly less ambitiously, but with a higher likelihood of going ahead, West Ham are interested in the former Portsmouth striker who played for new manager Avram Grant at Fratton Park. Other Pompey players believed to be about to follow Grant include Tal Ben Haim and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect