Hammer Fan Blog: West Ham board should back Grant for the season

The club should come out and say he is our man for the season

A new beginning, or merely a stay of execution for Avram Grant?

Only time will tell, but what isn’t in doubt is that Grant has handled himself impeccably as each unhelpful story has emanated (seemingly) from within the club, and as each journalistic fallacy somehow made it to print.

Whilst many supporters still have doubts about his credentials and ability to do the job; his dignified handling of a difficult situation has seen his stock rise amongst fans just as much, if not more than, the FA Cup victory over Barnsley and the semi-final first leg victory over Birmingham.

The fact that the Birmingham victory was achieved with only 16 fully fit first team squad players available and after playing more than half an hour with 10 men, is testament to Hammers’ spirit and recent improvement.

The Newcastle debacle looms large over an otherwise good spell, but the improvement has been tangible. In his last 15 games in all competitions, Grant has won six, drawn five and lost just four.

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that four wins in 22 League matches is simply not good enough - Grant himself will be fully aware of that - but in his time at the club he has won as many games as he has lost; and although managerial statistics can often be distorted by good Cup runs against weak opposition it is important to note that the Carling Cup run has taken in victories over Premiership opposition in Sunderland (away), Stoke, Manchester United and now Birmingham.

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Had the board decided to act in November or early December they would have received the backing of the vast majority of the fans; but there is a growing sense that, in spite of Grant’s limitations, the time for that has now passed and Grant should be given until the end of the season.

If the axe does fall then League position will be the deciding factor and, in spite of the good recent run, Grant could have few complaints. Rumours linking Martin O’Neill with the job have been greeted positively by supporters, rumours linking Sam Allardyce less so.

The pair’s credentials are obvious and well-known, yet Hammers’ fans need only look to their own recent history for evidence that a managerial change does not guarantee an immediate change of fortune - Alan Curbishley won one of his first 11 League games, Gianfranco Zola three of his first 14, Grant one of his first 14 - and West Ham can ill afford a similar run if they are to avoid relegation.

If they choose to retain the Israeli, it’s imperative that the board unequivocally back their man and do all they can to ensure that the classless rumours and bilious media outbursts, some from former players who should show a little more respect to the club, are stopped dead. They must also back their man in the transfer market and a new, proven goalscorer is fundamental to Hammers’ chances of survival in addition to the excellent acquisition of Wayne Bridge. Recent stories, leaks and columns have suggested that a repeat of the situation between board and manager in the final few months of last season is possible; but from a supporters viewpoint it is unthinkable, and totally unacceptable.

In many ways this is just as critical a time for the owners as it is for either Grant or his players; the murmurs of discontent about the way they conduct themselves are growing and at a time when everyone at the club must pull together in the same direction, the onus is on them to lead from the front.

To use the vernacular, ‘back him or sack him’ as the current situation isn’t helping anyone; and Hammers’ supporters can only live in hope that either option isn’t too late.

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