x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Grant looks for answers amid axing speculation

The West Ham wants to hold urgent talks this week with the club's joint owners over speculation that he has only three games to turn things around.

Avram Grant wants to hold urgent talks this week with West Ham United's joint owners over growing speculation about his future. The former coach of Israel, Chelsea and Portsmouth was shocked to read reports at the weekend that he has just three more games to save his job, having only been appointed in July following the departure of Gianfranco Zola.

Grant would like to have assurances about his long-term future at the club from David Sullivan and David Gold but is unlikely to get it despite the club recently publicly supporting the manager who has made such an underwhelming start at West Ham. Grant's position was already understood to be under intense scrutiny by the club's owners before their match at Manchester United 10 days ago and the listless 3-0 defeat, which made it three losses in their first three games. The east London's club's worst top flight start since 1977 will have done little to ease the pressure on Grant.

Following a 3-0 opening day defeat at Aston Villa, huge concerns were raised by the manner of West Ham's 3-1 home loss to Bolton Wanderers the following week. Publicly, the outspoken Sullivan has tried to deflect much of the blame for the dreadful start away from Grant and suggest that it has been caused by the "laziness" of some "want-away" foreign players. But it is understood that behind the scenes there are growing concerns about Grant's ability to motivate the squad, his coaching abilities on the training pitch and even his appetite for the task ahead.

The club perceived Grant to be a safe pair of hands and believed his connections with some agents would help recruit a certain calibre of player when they lured him from Portsmouth in the summer. Thus far, however, the feeling is the squad is now in a worse state that it was under Zola's management. Grant's problems are likely to mount over the next three weeks as West Ham face Chelsea, the free-scoring champions, on Saturday followed by a trip to Stoke City and then a home game against Tottenham Hotspur.

There is an increasing fear among the club's hierarchy that, unless Grant somehow raises morale, then the team could end the month rock bottom and without a point after six games. It is unprecedented for a team to survive in the Premier League from such a perilous position. Sullivan knows that scenario looms and has suggested that the season "really starts on October 2 when we play Fulham". But it is difficult to see Sullivan and Gold allowing West Ham to reach the end of the month without a point and they could replace Grant in a bid to save the club from relegation and the inevitable financial problems that would follow.

If Grant were to be sacked, the No 1 choice to replace him would be Martin O'Neill, who walked out on Aston Villa on the eve of the season. Slaven Bilic, a former West Ham player, would also be in the frame as would Glenn Hoddle, the former England manager. Neil Warnock, who manages Queens Park Rangers in the second tier of English football, and Alan Pardew, who managed the club between 2003 and 2006, would also be considered for the hotseat at Upton Park.