Grant: referees must stop seeing us as a soft touch

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The Independent Football

Avram Grant, the West Ham United manager, is considering asking his players to put pressure on referees if decisions continue to go against his team in their battle to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Grant believes his men have been the victims of poor performances from officials, the latest coming last Saturday when Frédéric Piquionne had what appeared to be a winning goal incorrectly ruled out for handball at Wolves.

To add to his frustration, Grant has seen opponents attempt to influence matches by surrounding the referee. It is a tactic he may now adopt for his own players if they continue to be viewed as a soft touch.

"If I think the other team has an advantage because of this, I will try," he admitted. "I always said to the players I like them when they are nice and positive, come to the pitch and you need to give everything.

"I am following the situation now. It is not my way to say, 'Scott Parker, next time slide-tackle the referee'. But I will think about this if I see it continue."

Grant, whose team can climb off the bottom if they win against Newcastle United today at Upton Park, suggests it is simply not in the nature of his squad to surround the officials. "Everyone needs to be aware that teams who don't behave sportingly have an advantage over teams that behave nicely," Grant added.

"I don't want to think it's because my players are behaving well and not jumping on the referees and we on the bench are sporting. But it is affecting us. There are so many decisions going against us.

"And I've started to think about it, because I don't think any of the referees are dishonest. Referees are human beings. Instead, the referees are saying, 'Learn from West Ham because they behave very nicely'."

Grant can put pressure on Chris Hughton, the Newcastle manager, with a win today. Yet he insists Hughton has done a excellent job by winning promotion from the Championship and deserves time as his side slide down the table now. "It is difficult to come to the Premier League after being relegated," he said. "They've done well until now and you cannot judge him after eight games. It is not good. Today, owners need to be more patient, especially at the beginning of the season. In our situation we want to win but, personally, I think Chris Hughton has done a very good job at Newcastle."

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