Happy Christmas makes West Ham’s Grant safe
Hammers boss Avram Grant is feeling a lot more comfortable in the West Ham hotseat after an excellent festive period.
WEST HAM’S meteoric and unexpected rise out of the relegation zone following a very merry Christmas has left manager Avram Grant in a much stronger position and many of his fiercest detractors having to eat their words.
Let’s not get carried away. The Hammers are still only one point ahead of the bottom three with another set of matches this midweek, while they have also played more games than any other of the bottom eight teams.
But seven points from three games over Christmas has given many West Ham fans a new belief in their team that was so sadly lacking not so long ago.
The catalyst for many was that thumping Carling Cup victory over Manchester United, but that was still followed by dismal defeats at Sunderland and at home to Manchester City.
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For others it was that first away win in 28 games at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day and the introduction of more kids into the team.
It was something that Grant had not been confident enough to do in the earlier stages of the season, but by Boxing Day desperation had set in and he included James Tomkins, Junior Stanislas and Freddie Sears.
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“Before the game against Fulham, I can tell you now, we didn’t know which players could play until the last moment,” revealed Grant.
“We didn’t know which team to pick, we had a lot of problems, but the spirit was always good.
“For the project of West Ham, it was very important that we continue to do the things that we believe in.
“We put in three young players when we were on the bottom, I don’t think that many other teams would do that.”
He is right. It was a brave move, or maybe the last throw of the dice from a manager who felt that his job was slipping away from him.
Many supporters would have wanted to see the back of him earlier, but Grant himself cannot believe that sort of mentality.
“For me it is very, very strange when you pick a manager in June and then in October or November you want to change him,” explained the boss. “When you pick a manager, you pick a philosophy.
“Of course, everything is about results, but when you have a new manager sometimes you need to have patience.
“I’m not necessarily talking about me, but when you have problems, sometimes you can’t turn it round in two or three months, it takes time.”
It has certainly taken time for Grant to find his feet at Upton Park and it may well be his decision to revert back to the fine traditions of Tony Carr and his Academy system that has saved him in his job.
Grant suggests that there is too many knee-jerk reactions from chairmen and supporters alike when things start to go wrong.
“I think sometimes everybody has quick conclusions,” he said. “Robert Green was not good for the first two games, so he is not a good goalkeeper; Matthew Upson had one bad game so he is not a good defender; we were at the bottom and we lost games, so we are not doing a good job.
“The top of the line is the results, but sometimes you need to analyse what has happened on the way.
“I always suggest to everyone and I speak to myself also, to be patient before making decisions.”
Grant’s stock has certainly risen in the last week or so, and things can go one of two ways.
When you look at it, there are just nine points between Stoke City in eighth and Wolves in bottom spot.
A couple more wins and the Hammers could be battling in the top half of the table, but a couple of defeats and West Ham will be back to square one and that would put the pressure on Grant once again.
Who’d be a football manager? There are probably 30,000 odd West Ham fans who would love the chance, but for the moment, Grant is sitting a little more firmly in the hot seat.