Grant can’t hide his delight
A PICTURE of Avram Grant smiling is almost as rare as a Black Rhino – the world’s most endangered species – but when the West Ham manager strolled into the Hammers’ Chadwell Heath training ground on Monday morning, he must have cracked a grin when he saw his three disciples.
The 55-year-old delegated control of the team against Stoke on Saturday to senior coaching staff Zeljko Petrovic, Paul Groves and Kevin Keen, who oversaw the side’s 1-1 draw at the Britannia – their first point of the season.
Grant, who was absent from the game as he observed Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, expressed his relief at getting off the mark and praised his staff and players for their execution of the game plan.
“It was great, but we have a way of how we coach, how we come to the game and how we prepare for the game, so we followed that way,” he said. “Of course, for me it was very difficult and also very strange, but the staff and the players did a good job and that’s what is important.
“The most important thing is that the team continues focusing and takes more points.
“It’s a relief (to get their first point) and I think we deserved it. We played very good against Chelsea. I think if you saw the Chelsea game, they created less chances than they did in any game - they created one chance and they scored from this chance.
“We just wanted to continue our progress after we also played very well against Bolton, but still had zero points. At the end of the day, you need points and we took our first point.
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“We could have taken three, because I think we played very well and reacted well after their goal, so there are many positives we can take to the next games.”
When Grant returns to the West Ham dugout against Tottenham on Saturday he’ll want to show he’s still the guv’nor and capable of inspiring the team to victory against one of their biggest London rivals.
By Premier League standards, one point from five games would have surely left most managers walking the P45 tightrope, but West Ham’s co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have been supportive of Grant.
However, as far as the fans are concerned the jury is still out, with a verdict of dismissal for negligence to results standing as a potential charge.
But the visit of Spurs always triggers a vociferous response from the Hammers fans and assistant manager Petrovic is backing the supporters to inspire the players to victory at Upton Park.
“I know this is a special game. It is a big derby and the players are going to be ready for it,” he said.
“We have fantastic supporters. I was a coach before at Hamburg and it was exactly the same there - a club with a big history and big passion.
“It is very easy for players to play here at West Ham. The fans support you, the stadium is full. We just have to give 100 per cent and stick together.”