x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Safety first from Grant is not the answer

Avram Grant, the West Ham manager cuts the figure of man who would walk into the liveliest New Year¿s party and turn it into a wake.

West Ham’s Scott Parker, right, goes in strongly with Everton’s Tony Hibbert at Upton Park.
West Ham’s Scott Parker, right, goes in strongly with Everton’s Tony Hibbert at Upton Park.

LONDON // Avram Grant, the West Ham manager cuts the figure of man who would walk into the liveliest New Year's party and turn it into a wake.

This was a game the Hammers could and should have won to lift them out of the relegation zone.

But Grant who seems more hell bent on his own personal survival than the club's opted for dour safety on the night and so threw away the chance to build a momentum away from the foot of the table as Everton maintained their own upward spiral.

After their morale boosting 3-1 win at Fulham on Sunday West Ham were seeking only their second back to back win in 22 months, but they did so without any conviction.

Given their circumstances it seemed ridiculous Grant chose to leave striker Carlton Cole, who had scored twice in that win at Fulham, on the bench.

When you are in the relegation zone it is folly to try and pick and choose where you are going to points -but presumably the West Ham manager had an eye on Saturday's game against Wolves.

True after being put under the cosh from the start the Hammers took the lead in the 16th minute - although as at Fulham the breakthrough had more to do with the opposition than their own invention.

From a corner Everton keeper Tim Howard punched out poorly. Radoslav Kovac hooked the ball back goalward and Tony Hibbert in trying to clear his lines managed only to slice it into his own net.

West Ham started to play with a bit more belief for a while, but as has been the norm lacked a cutting edge and just before the break another familiar failing, a lack of defensive concentration, invited Everton back into the game just before the break.

Jon Spector who had just come off the bench for the injured Herita Illunga at left back was drawn to the ball as Tim Cahill sent over a deep far post cross allowing Seamus Coleman emerge unchallenged and slot past a flat footed Rob Green.

There was an immediate sense the game was starting to slip away from the Hammers as Marouna Fellaini and Mikel Arteta asserted increasing control of the midfield, so in the 55th minute Cole was sent on to liven up the attack.

He should have turned the game 15 minutes later when young Freddie Sears, again offering energy and invention down the right, sent over a low cross which picked out Cole in space just 10 yards out, but the striker side-footed embarrassingly wide.

What a waste for him and the Hammers as they allowed two points to escape them.

 

sports@thenational.ae