West Ham’s game of puppetry with a dignified managerial patsy

Standing alone on the touchline, Avram Grant has cut an image of an increasingly forlorn figure this season. Excluded from the clique of his employers, he has been sidelined and ignored in the playground games of the West Ham owners.

The people upstairs have seemingly decided that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and decided to look elsewhere for a potential replacement, which is understandable considering the Hammers precarious league position, but they did so with all the tact of an infantile child.

Now seemingly through a lack of choice, after Martin O’Neill refused to jump aboard the money train and throw himself into the media ruckus that surrounds West Ham, Gold, Sullivan and Brady have decided that their tabloid pursuit of the former Villa manager didn’t happen and that Grant has always been their man.

Complete with false smiles and disingenuous comments, Grant has been welcomed back into the bosom of Upton Park and held aloft as their first choice all along, but only as they could find no replacement, how special he must feel.

“The club are committed to retaining Avram Grant as manager and have identified potential transfer targets to give us the best possible chance of retaining Premier League status,” the club said in a false smile on its website.

Having repeatedly been given ultimatums Grant must surely now be feeling like a puppet on a string being drawn here there and everywhere as part of the owners attempts to seemingly stoke the fire.

With two weeks left of the January transfer window remaining there will surely be a change of personnel at Upton Park in an attempt to galvanize the team and help them avoid relegation.

Wayne Bridge has already been brought in, but considering the speculation that O’Neill was being strongly touted to replace the Israeli, it calls into question the level of involvement he will have in these deals and the level of backing he will have to splash the cash of the owners if he isn’t their premier choice as manager.

He may be forced to work with what he is given, as the distance of trust and support between the top levels of management at the club has seemingly widened.

Fans will be hoping in vain that the gossip and speculation has united the team behind their underfire manager, instead of the furore dividing the camp, but only time will tell.

One thing is clear though and that’s that Grant has remained remarkably noble and stoic in his response to the almost childlike and public search for a successor and the ultimatums thrown at him and whether you feel he’s actually suitable for the job and has succeeded in his mission, he has certainly proved he is a dignified man.

Tags: Premier League, West Ham United

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Chris 18 January 2011 at 1:55pm

When I first heard that O’neil was considering taking his claret and blue tie to east London my immediate thoughts were something along the lines of JUDAS!

Not only had he departed Villa and left us in turmoil 4 days before the season he was now going to go and work his magic at West Ham, fellow relegation candidates and the current project of former Birmingham clowns Gold and Sullivan.

But I have a theory:

O’neil has been wretched with guilt since he left Villa Park. Knowing that we are now in a relegation battle with West Ham he has intentionally flirted with Gold, Sullivan and Brady as a way of unsettling West Ham further.

But why would O’neil, normally such an honourable man, be this harsh on Avram Grant? Well, he was doing Grant a favour by publicising what monsters run the West Ham board room, improving his public perception and saving his reputation for when he is eventually sacked or has the sense to resign.

Finally, he even seems to have damaged arch rivals Birmingham City with this bit of genius: by making Robbie Keane think he was going to take over at West Ham, Keane seems to have effectively turned down a move to the wrong side of the second city with ridiculous wage demands. Now they are stuck with Zigic and Derbyshire.

The man is a genius. It’s just a shame he couldn’t stop himself overpaying for slightly above average English players and then insited on playing them out of position.

Dan Mobbs 18 January 2011 at 2:08pm

From the ashes the phoenix that is O’Neill rises, with the purpose of annoying Blues fans and highlighting the mismanagement of the Chuckle brothers and the crap one from the Apprentice. Now if he can engineer a way for Carew to be sold for a few £££ I’ll bow at his feet.

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