Avram Grant sacked as West Ham United face player exodus following relegation to the Championship
Avram Grant was sacked as manager of West Ham United within minutes of the club being relegated from the Premier League on Sunday.
Lights out: West Ham have called time on Avram Grant's underwhelming time at Upton Park Photo: AFP
By Jason Burt 11:00PM BST 15 May 2011
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Grant was then led to a spare room inside the stadium where he was summarily sacked by Sullivan, co-owner David Gold and the club’s vice-chairman, Karren Brady.
Neil Warnock, whose future at Queen’s park rangers is in doubt, despite the remarkable job he has done there, features prominently on the list of possible replacements although on Sunday night a senior club source claimed there was only a “10 per cent chance” he would take over. The former Sheffield United manager’s history with West Ham over the Carlos Tévez affair is a problem while the club may seek a younger manager.
Despite the expectation that Grant was going to go, the suddenness was a shock, not least to the 56-year-old Israeli who was telling friends last week that he still hoped to stay despite losing the faith of the board.
West Ham United have already drawn up a short-list and are desperate to find a manager who has experience of gaining promotion from the Championship. As well as seeing whether Warnock holds on to his job at QPR - talks on his future are expected this week with strong suggestions that Claudio Ranieri could still replace him - there also remains firm interest in Paul Lambert although he is expected to remain at Norwich City for the time being now they are promoted.
There is also interest in Cardiff City’s Dave Jones and Blackpool’s Ian Holloway while West Ham did discuss, previously, the merits of Sam Allardyce, although he is unlikely to want to drop down from the top flight, and Chris Hughton. It may well that West Ham wait and see how the relegation and promotion contests play out before they make their move for a new manager who will have to undertake an extensive rebuilding of a squad that will be decimated by the drop.
Sullivan has said a number of the big names and high-earners will go - like Scott Parker and Robert Green - while others - Matthew Upson, Luis Boa Morte, Danny Gabbidon and Jonathan Spector - are out of contract. Robbie Keane and Wayne Bridge, who earn £155,0000 a week between them, will return to their parent clubs.
Sullivan has estimated the cost of relegation at £40 million and there is also likely to be a round of redundancies on top of the player exodus - which will also include Thomas Hitzlsperger and Demba Ba.
The key will be whether the board and the new manager can hold on to some of the younger players such as James Tomkins, Jack Collison and Mark Noble - West Ham have already had offers - but that may well depend on who takes over and what kind of assurances can be given.
Grant has struggled at West Ham from the outset. He was sacked just 11 months into a four-year deal after joining last summer despite leading Portsmouth to relegation from the Premier League. However he came close to losing his job in December when West Ham approached Martin O’Neill and believed they had secured the former Aston Villa manager only for the deal to collapse.
The board have put assistant coach Kevin Keen in charge for the final league game of the season, at home to Sunderland, in a move that would also appear to be an attempt to defuse some of the anger around them.
However there will undoubtedly be a hostile atmosphere at Upton Park for Sullivan and Gold who only took over in January 2010, promising to restore the club’s fortunes.
The West Ham players have struggled with Grant’s training regime and tactics this season and there is understood to be deep regret within the boardroom that he was not sacked earlier in a campaign which appeared doom to failure with him in charge.
Grant replaced Gianfranco Zola who only just staved off relegation last May and was regarded as too weak by the new owners, despite the financial meltdown at the club that he faced and dealt with.
Instead of sacking Grant, West Ham invested in loan players in January. There was a rally in form, which saw them out of the bottom three, but then they collapsed again, with relegation yesterday despite a 2-0 lead at Wigan Athletic.
As tensions rose, a fan is understood to have remonstrated with Brady as she sat in the directors’ box, while there were chants for Grant to go and Parker was confronted on the pitch by home fans celebrating the win which gives Wigan survival hope.
Grant, who returned to London with the rest of the squad, did his usual post-match press conference even though he knew he was sacked.
He said: “I don’t know my future, I don’t think about myself now, it’s too tough for me that we’re relegated. First we have to face this situation. Yes, I take responsibility. I’m not a guy who gives responsibility to other people, it is my responsibility to pick the team and every game and the tactics so it’s my responsibility about the result.”
He is understood to have an open invitation to return to Chelsea, possibly as director of football, and still enjoys a good relationship with Roman Abramovich despite being sacked in 2008. He has told friends, however, that he wants to remain a manager.
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