x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

West Ham in hunt as Grant quits

West Ham have approached Avram Grant to be their new manager after his decision to quit Portsmouth.

West Ham have approached Avram Grant to be their new manager after his decision to quit Portsmouth. The Israeli, who won praise for his unsuccessful attempts to keep the debt-ridden Pompey in the Premier League and led them to the FA Cup final last weekend despite the side being relegated, said resigning had been "one of the most difficult decisions I've had to take in my football career". "After a lot of soul searching and under the circumstances I'm taking a different direction," he said Thursday night in an open letter to fans on the club's website. "It's been both a difficult and complex year for us at the club, but at the same time, it's been a wonderful and uplifting professional and personal experience."

West Ham want Grant to replace sacked boss Gianfranco Zola, and he is believed to have had several other offers. Grant took over from Paul Hart at Portsmouth in November, but his time in the hotseat was beset by off-field problems as the full scale of the club's debt problems began to emerge. They was forced into administration in February and the Premier League deducted nine points, which all but sealed the team's bottom-place finish and relegation to the Championship.

But Grant led his players out of the financial maelstrom to the FA Cup final at Wembley last weekend, where despite a dogged performance they went down 1-0 to his former club Chelsea. Grant paid tribute to the club's fans: "I will never forget you, the loyal fans of Pompey who, without a doubt, helped me protect the team under such complex circumstances. "There are very few teams in the world that have fans as passionate and devoted as you are.

"Seeing you all so proud with your heads held up high is the best reward I can receive." * AFP