Hammers fan blog: Grant must go after Bolton debacle

Manager handed the initiative to relegation rivals with poor team selection

There will always be a core of support at West Ham that is fiercely proud of the club’s (long since departed) tradition of standing by their man, of having had comparatively few managers.

That will always venture that it takes more than a year to turn around a side performing as poorly as Hammers did in the last campaign – but even the patience of these hardy souls was severely tested at the weekend as a bewildering team selection by Avram Grant saw the hapless east Londoners turn in the sort of performance at Bolton that the long-suffering supporters had hoped had been consigned to history.

Quite simply; there were no redeeming features to an abject display, and in spite of his touchline ban, the Israeli managed to hand the initiative to Bolton before a ball was kicked.

This is not, of course, the first Hammers side to be outplayed, outfought and out-thought at the Reebok; but given the club’s current plight it was a totally unacceptable performance from all concerned and one that, if the rumour mill around Upton Park is to be believed, has left Grant likely to depart in the summer regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season.

Saturday’s performance was not the first of its kind, so Grant is likely to find sympathy in very short supply, such has been his contribution to his own downfall.

One could labour the point about selections such as Robbie Keane in a wide role, or James Tomkins’ inclusion at right back when his partnership with Matthew Upson in the centre has yielded Hammers’ best defensive displays; but the selection failures were so palpably obvious to all and sundry that there would seem to be little point dwelling on them further.

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Supporters must hope that the book is now closed on managerial incompetence as Saturday’s game against Aston Villa takes on added significance.

Before the international break, it’s a game that West Ham would have approached with confidence but back-to-back defeats, and more pertinently the manner of the collapses, have led to a certain amount of trepidation amongst the Hammers faithful. Villa may have beaten a severely depleted Newcastle side at the weekend, but they were far from convincing and there is no reason that West Ham’s underperforming stars should fear them.

There is a school of thought these days that the Upton Park supporters are quick to turn on their side when things aren’t going well and this is an excellent opportunity for the supporters, who’ve had precious little to cheer in recent times, to debunk that myth.

First things first though, Grant must pick the right team, and the players that cross the white line must take some responsibility for their own performance levels. Throughout this campaign - and for that matter the previous one - the side has looked a more than decent outfit when playing at a high tempo, on the front foot, and in the faces of the opposition. When they haven’t done this, they’ve been utterly awful.

The manager maintains that we need three wins for survival. Given the upcoming fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester City away from Upton Park, it’s imperative that his side start now or there is a very real possibility of entering the final three games needing to win them all, and off the back of five straight defeats.

NOW, we’re in must-win territory.


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