Hammer fan blog: West Ham boss Grant’s touchline ban is a joke

“Avram Grant has received a two match touchline suspension for answering honestly a question that was put to him in a post-match interview”

Another week, another directive from Premier League chiefs on the ‘Respect’ campaign, swiftly followed by yet another inadequate performance from one of the officials that managers, players and supporters are expected to defer to.

Hot on the heels of Lee Mason’s baffling decision to award a penalty to Manchester United and, more significantly, his failure to send off Nemanja Vidic on one of the two occasions his indiscretions warranted a red card; it has emerged that Avram Grant has received a two match touchline suspension for answering honestly a question that was put to him in a post-match interview. An excellent week’s work from the top brass at the FA and the Premier League, and their campaign gathers ridicule at pace.

On the evidence of Saturday lunchtime, though, these touchline bans have precious little influence in a technological age where a manager finds a way to get his point across.

For in spite of Mr Mason’s poor decision-making, Hammers were undone by a second half Manchester United fightback that was very much orchestrated by the supposedly-suspended Sir Alex Ferguson high up in the Upton Park stands.

In the final reckoning, being outplayed by the Champions elect may not be the decisive factor when determining which league West Ham play their football next season; but having reached the interval (and ultimately the hour mark) two goals to the good, the east London faithful are rightly disappointed to have come away with nothing – particularly since other results of the weekend were less than kind.

Rather than being a time to dwell on what went wrong against the best team in the country though, this is the time to look ahead to the two huge fixtures looming on the horizon that could well be hugely significant.

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West Ham have an atrocious record against this weekend’s opponents Bolton, having never won at the Reebok stadium, and now would be an excellent time for that to change.

With an FA Cup semi-final on their agenda, and having suffered three successive defeats in the League; now might just be a good time to play them. A draw would not be a disaster, but defeat will pile the pressure on the following week at home to Aston Villa.

There’s time enough to look ahead to that game, and for now all the focus must be on the trip to the rather soulless stadium that has been the source of so much heartache for more than a decade.

The run-in starts in earnest from here, and a quick glance at the remaining fixtures shows that Hammers survival is still very much in their own hands.

There’s little doubt that the quality is now in place to survive; it is simply a question of whether manager and players can handle the pressure.

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