Grant targets escape from relegation

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The Independent Online

Avram Grant is well aware of the statistic that only one club bottom of the Premier League at Christmas has survived - but is relishing the challenge of making West Ham the second.

The Hammers visit Fulham tomorrow bottom of the pile, three points behind the fourth-bottom Cottagers.



But Grant is not giving up hope yet as West Ham look to become only the second club, after West Brom in 2005, to stay up after lying bottom at Christmas.



The Israeli, who was relegated with Portsmouth in administration last season, said: "I had a big challenge last year at a team without owners and I had big challenges before.



"For me, what has happened in the past is good and tradition is good but things happen that didn't happen in the past.



"Nobody thought a guy could run a mile in under four minutes because nobody had done it before, so there are a lot of things that nobody has done before but we want to do it and we can do it."



Grant yesterday insisted there is no way he would allow Scott Parker to leave the relegation-threatened club in the January transfer window.



Grant admits the rock-bottom Hammers are likely to be busy in the transfer market as he fights to save his job and West Ham attempt to claw their way to Premier League safety.



But while he is looking to bring in several reinforcements, Parker, who has been linked with a possible move to Tottenham, will be going nowhere.



Grant admitted West Ham are close to completing a deal with Aston Villa for midfielder Steve Sidwell, but when asked if Parker could be leaving he said: "No chance.



"Scott Parker is more than a good player for this football club. Even though we are at the bottom, we are trying to do the right things for this club.



"We know all the teams that succeeded did not have it so easy at the start.



"He is one of the foundations of this club. The owners have made it very clear that they want Scott Parker here and want good players here.



"We don't have many like Scott Parker and it would not be good for us if he left the club and I don't think it would be good for him. He knows what the vision of the club is and he is part of it."



Grant refused to confirm reports that the club were interested in Manchester City full-back Wayne Bridge and striker Shaun Wright-Phillips, plus Tottenham's Robbie Keane and Jonathan Woodgate.



But he added: "It is not a secret that we have a lot of injuries and that we need to make the squad stronger and that is what we will try to do in January.



"A lot of players have been linked with us."



Grant could get a boost for tomorrow lunchtime's kick-off at Fulham with goalkeeper Robert Green poised to return after recovering from a minor hip operation.



Victor Obinna could also be back, although he only trained lightly at Upton Park. Luis Boa-Morte is out suspended.



Grant, however, shrugged off the pressure which sees West Ham face a Fulham side, just one spot outside the relegation zone, without a win in their last 27 away league matches.



Grant said: "We want to play like we did last week when we were better than Blackburn and we want to take points because we need them.



"I think Mark Hughes (Fulham manager) is under pressure, but Wolves are under pressure, Wigan are under pressure, Blackburn are under pressure and at the top the six teams are under pressure.



"This is the name of the game. We are under pressure to take points because we are at the bottom.



"We don't deserve to be at the bottom, having analysed our games, but there are no points awarded for 'deserve'."



On Sidwell, who Grant managed at Chelsea and who has undergone a medical at Upton Park, the West Ham boss said: "Normally I don't speak about players when we didn't complete the signing but I am interested in him.



"He is a good player and a good lad. We are trying to build a team here with positive guys and intelligent players and he is very intelligent and I hope we will complete the deal. He has done what he needs to do to be here."

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