West Ham’s 4-0 demolition of Manchester United in the Carling Cup has bought Avram Grant a little time… but not much.
The win is a nice result that brings the East Enders closer to some long-absent silverware. West Ham haven’t won a trophy since they beat Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup final thirty years ago (the last non-top flight team to do so), and they haven’t been this far since their FA Cup final loss to Liverpool in 2006. The Hammers have also ended the Red Devils’ 29-game unbeaten streak… and they did it by shutting them out, while putting four past the hapless Kuszczak.
But it was a fluke, a night where a rare blizzard blanketed London. Anyone who watches the NFL will know that snow and wind are great equalizers that can turn any superstar into a penguin.
Since their takeover, WHU owners Gold and Sullivan (Gullivan?) have talked about a new era at Upton Park. But Grant is not the man to do it. After being plucked from the obscurity of the Israeli leagues and national team by Roman Abramovich, Grant has failed to impress. Supporters say he is Moses when it comes to guiding his sides to cup finals… but like Moses, he isn’t the actual man to lead them out of the desert.
Grant did take Chelsea to a Champions League final (which they lost to Man U), two points away from a Premier League title (which they also lost Man U), and a League Cup final (loo-hoo-ser). But that squad could have coached themselves… and from all accounts, it did. Last season, Portsmouth fans cheered as Grant steered their destitute club to the FA Cup final (again, a loss) but then had to watch as Pompey dropped back down to the Championship.
In fact, since he was shuffled out of Stamford Bridge, his teams have only won 16 games: about 30%. It’s simply not good enough. Hammer fans are unforgiving, even if they are a bit forgetful. Tonight they were singing “on the march with Avram’s Army” after Victor Obinna’s three-assist performance. Yet two weeks ago, an incredibly errant kick from the Nigerian left the fans chanting, “That’s why we’re going down”. And let’s face it: last weekend’s 3-1 win over Wigan wasn’t really the match that will “save” West Ham’s season.
Despite the lopsided victory over Man U, I doubt that Grant will be around to see The Irons play their Carling semi-final in January. They are at bottom of the table and now have to travel to Sunderland — who have yet to lose at the Stadium of Light this season — and then face superstar Man City at home, before heading all the way back to Blackburn… and then the holiday run of games begin. That means West Ham could still be on the bottom by Christmas… a bad portent in the Prem. Grant can’t hack it in the big league… and the owners know it.
The bookies list Grant as having the best odds of all Premier League managers to get the sack. The team is in London for over a week during the Christmas break. Look for the owners to pull the plug then.