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Guest Gary Loughran

New Season - Same Story

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Now, we're being told that Grant has 3 days to save his job. I'm hoping that is just paper talk as I've never believed chopping and changing the manager is good practise.

I do hope they don't sack Grant.

Been working hard - apologies for not joining in the debate. I am amazed West Ham offered Grant a job. Aside from being a co-religionist friend of Abrhamovic; Grant is a non-entity in terms of managerial ability, lest one similarly views David Jeffery at Linfield as a top manager. Grant is totally out of his depth. Whilst I don't like chopping and changing managers - I suspect Grant was only brought in because he was cheap.

Avram Grant is one of the worst top flight managers in the history of the Premier League. Despite having no track record in management nor licenses as required to manage in the PL - he got a job at Chelsea, (see relationship with powerful Abrahamovic), where he won nothing. He went to a decent side (albeit financially in trouble) at Portsmouth where he won nothing. He is at West Ham where he will win nothing. He has spent 365 days at the bottom of the League.

He did drop Carlton Cole - which must mean he knows something about football. He does play Herita Ilunga, Mark Noble and Boa Morte which more than negates any kudos from dropping Carlton Cole.

Truth is our squad is OK and if managed well should survive in the PL. Our manager is pathetic. The players are not playing well as a team - we have no pace, no holding midfielder and no out and out goalscorer. I have no idea how we right this, my first move would be to bring a proper manager and I have no idea who that is!

I still think West Ham is a better team than we were last season. We have not lost too many, the problem is that most of the games have finished as draws. I still think we can beat the drop with Grant. Even so, unless he is out of the relegation zone by Christmas he will be sacked. The rumour is that he will be replaced by Neil Warnock .

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I've been finding it hard to sit down and type anything here lately.

My most recent trip down to East Ham was for the visit of WBA which fizzled out like a damp squib. Scott Parker did connect with a long range effort to level the scores, then an early 2nd half penalty seemed to have put us in the driving seat again. Cue, everybody falling back into defense inviting the opposition on. West Brom duly equalised with a free header which just about everybody (but the West Ham defence) saw coming.

So 2-2 and another 2 points wriggled out of our grasps.

What's inspired me to write tonight? Well, according to the Evening Standard, Upton Park is to be sold to a supermarket chain. This coming on the back of Boris Johnson backing the decision to let Spurs re-develop White Hart Lane seems to suggest that West Ham are Olympic Stadium bound.

I suspect I might not be the only 'old timer' (I've been going to the Boleyn off and on since 1966) who's not sorry that we'll be saying farewell to Upton Park.

For those of us who remember some of the memorable nights under the floodlights, the Stadium has become a lopsided, lifeless theatre which I'll be glad to see the back of. I suspect I'm not the only one.

One concern is that the Olympic running track will be retained. Well, I was sat in the west stand the other night and that has somehow ended up miles away from the action.

I used to love standing in the chicken run with my Dad. You were literally on top of the players. It was an intimidating atmosphere for the visiting team (and occasionally for some of our own players). Right now I'm thinking of Leroy Rosenior scoring 2 goals against Chelsea in a 4-1 win that prevented relegation. George Parris's cannonball shot in the last minute against Watford. The roar from the crowd was like Concorde whizzing overhead.

I'm trying to think of recent games where the atmosphere has even come close. Ipswich in the play offs was good but after that I'm struggling...

Nope, I'm looking forward to seeing West Ham in a new home. Hopefully it will be easier to get to, there's the potential for really big crowds and maybe we'll get some atmosphere going again.

Maybe...

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Well... I'm sat here enduring an extraordinary first half at West Ham. Currently 3-0, it should actually be 6-2 ( sorry 6-3, O'Neill just hit the bar)

If I had to settle for one word to sum up what I'm witnessing I'd probably go with 'appalling'. It's one of the most inept, clueless displays of defending I've seen in 6 decades - and that's saying something.

The board clearly can't afford to sack him but Grant should be placed on 'gardening leave' immediately - and I mean immediately. he shouldn't even make it to the tunnel - and literally anybody put in temporarily as caretaker manager until the end of the season. Whoever they promoted couldn't possibly do any worse.

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Jamie O’Hara gave an interesting interview to the Guardian about the problems of young players given their chance at premier league clubs. He was complaining about how he was not given a real opportunity at Spurs. He had joined the club as a teenager and was a star of the youth team. He argues that it does not matter how well you perform at this level because manager’s give preference to young players they buy. O’Hara rightly argues that managers do that as they need to justify the money they have spent on bringing players in. If they buy them they feel they have to play them, otherwise fans will question their judgment concerning young talent.

I thought about this interview while watching Winston Reid’s appalling performance against WBA yesterday. Reid was purchased by Avram Grant from Midtjylland in the Denmark league in August 2010. Reid (22) had lived in Denmark since a kid but when he realized he was not going to make the Danish team he offered to play for New Zealand, where the standards are much lower. In fact, New Zealand’s manager, Ricki Herbert, put him in his team without seeing him play. Apparently, Grant was impressed with Reid performance in the World Cup game against Slovakia (his goal secured a draw and gave New Zealand's first ever point in a World Cup finals match).

It has been clear that even Grant now realizes Reid is a very limited player and only played him yesterday because of injuries to Matthew Upson, James Tomkins and Danny Gabbidon. However, Grant also has two very talented central defenders at the club. Jordan Spence (20) has captained the English team at every level he has played (U16, U17, U18, U19). He also has had two successful loan periods at Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe United. Mathew Fry is also 20 years old and is currently on loan at Charlton Athletic. Does Grant prefer Reid to Spence because he is trying to develop a reputation for being a good judge of a player? If so, it is not working.

Carlton Cole’s interview after the game was interesting. He credited the speech given by Scott Parker at half-time for explaining the team’s dramatic recovery. He failed to mention the role played by Grant in the 3-3 draw. This is not the first time that Cole has given interviews that have criticized Grant and I suspect it will result in him being dropped for the game against Burnley.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/9391009.stm

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A very pleasant trip down to Upton Park for a change.

Maybe it was the couple of pints with various other Haleys in the Black Lion before the game that put me in a relaxed mood but I sat back into my seat quietly confident.

For a while it looked misplaced as Burnley seemed far the more likely to score in the first 20 minutes. Green made a couple of decent saves to keep things level.

Hitzelberger changed all that with an excellent 25 yard debut strike that swerved a couple of times en route to the back of the net. I'd been one of the fortunate ones who saw him play pre-season before (in typical West Ham new signing fashion) he injured himself without actually playing a competitive game.

After that there was really only one team in it, especially following a quick double from Carlton Cole after the break. The first goal was as comical as the second was sublime. A bit like West Ham this season.

Winston Reid garnered some much needed confidence from this performance, especially when he met an excellent Hitzelberger near post corner to flash a header past the Burnley keeper to make it 4-0.

After that it seemed West Ham would content themselves with passing the ball around for the last half an hour. At times it was difficult to see Burnley even touching the ball, let alone scoring.

Inevitably that's precisely what happened. Bridge got himself in a muddle and passed the ball back to Green when he would've been wiser to hoof it into Row Z. Green duly punted the ball straight into a Burnley forward, the ricochet went to another forward who duly headed into the empty net.

Only West Ham...

That briefly gave Burnley a bit of heart and their substitute very nearly pulled another goal back before Reid appeared on the goal line to miraculously head the ball up against the bar, then post... back into Green's arms.

It must have been a bit of a choker as Freddie Sears raced away up the other end linking up with Piqionne, then Spector before bursting into the box to finish the game off with a 5th. Personally I'm delighted Grant has managed to find a position for him out on the right. After such a promising start Sears had endured an alarming goal famine lasting a couple of years but, after a decent spell down at Scunny, has finally started to fulfill his potential weighing in with a couple of goals. Good for him.

Meanwhile Avram Grant seems to have decided the "we'll score more than you" approach is the way to go for the rest of the season. Whether West Ham stay up or not I'm expecting quite a few goals to fly in - for and against.

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Personally I'm delighted Grant has managed to find a position for him out on the right. After such a promising start Sears had endured an alarming goal famine lasting a couple of years but, after a decent spell down at Scunny, has finally started to fulfill his potential weighing in with a couple of goals. Good for him.

It was actually the manager of Scunthorpe who found this new position for Sears when he was out on loan. When you play 4-3-3 you need two wide men who help their full-backs defend (it works really well if they can attack together as well). Sears does this really well. The problem was that Demba Ba did it very badly on the other flank. He wants to play as a striker or in a two in front. Grant needs to solve this problem before the game at Liverpool.

I can't see why Sears was dropped after his encouraging form a month ago. In some ways, Grant's problem is that he has got too many strikers and he wants to fit them all in the team. Until he solves problems like this, he will never be a good coach.

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