Bubble has burst for Grant and Hammers

HE may see it differently but at least Avram Grant’s last match in charge of West Ham United was about as thrilling as it possibly gets.

At 7.11pm last night, a member of West Ham United’s media staff confirmed the rumours that he had been sacked after this stunningly enthralling and quite ridiculous encounter which saw the London side become the first this season to be relegated from the Premier League.

The locality of Wigan, with its flat-cap image, its fondness for pies and its industrial landscape lends it a perpetually dour image but yesterday it had enough drama, sparkle and sensation to outshine Hollywood, Cannes and St Tropez put together.

It also contained a side good enough, just about, to condemn West Ham United to the Championship and finally put a dying dog of a side, club and entity out of its misery after a season of unrelenting farce and disappointment at Upton Park.

At half-time, two Demba Ba headers — a combination of clinical finishing and dire Wigan defending — saw the home side booed off and West Ham clutching at the little hope they had that they could avoid relegation.

Win today, so the prayers went, squeeze a victory out at Sunderland on the last day by a decent margin, cross all fingers and toes, and who knows what could happen? Well, what happened instead of that was Wigan came out after the break and produced a desperate, enthralling, brilliant, barmy performance to take their own perilous relegation mission to the last game against Stoke City next Sunday.

West Ham’s owners David Sullivan and David Gold had warned that relegation would be a financial disaster for the club but even they must be able to acknowledge that the disintegration in the ranks in the second half of this occasion underlines that going down a level may not be the worst thing for the club in the long-term.

It may just cauterise the bleeding that has seen the club of Moore, Peters and Hurst reduced to a laughing stock.

Relegation means there will be a wholesale clearout, the dead wood will be shown the door, the wage bill will be slashed as the likes of Scott Parker, Robbie Keane, Matthew Upson, Wayne Bridge and Robert Green look elsewhere and Sullivan and Gold immediately indicated their intent as Grant was dismissed while discussing his future with the media.

“I’m very sad,” he said while portraying ignorance regarding his own fate.

“When I go out from the room I will think about my future.

“The most important for me now is that it’s not a good day for the supporters or the club. It’s a big club, a good club and I still believe in the future of the club.”

He may have chosen to swerve questions about his future — or lack of one — but he was more forthright about where West Ham’s problems have emanated from this term.

“Yes, I take responsibility,” he added.

“I’m not a guy who gives responsibility to other people, it is my responsibility to pick the team and every game and the tactics so it’s my responsibility about the result.

“It’s a very sad day, the most sad day since I started football almost 40 years ago.”

Within those 40 years, he can rarely have witnessed a second half as awe-inspiring as this.

Martinez rolled the dice and brought Conor Sammon on from the bench at the break, along with Victor Moses, and they set about changing the game, along with N’Zogbia, who ultimately stole the show.

He curled home a free-kick close to the hour mark before helping set up Sammon who swept past Green for the equaliser as the game entered a fascinating denouement in which either side could have won.

Both midfields fell away to nothing as it was attack followed by attack and with 95 minutes showing on the clock, a low N’Zogbia shot squirmed under Robert Green to win the game and offer Wigan a hint of salvation. Grant was not afforded the same opportunity.

“At half-time it was a real, real mountain to climb,” Martinez said.

“But today’s game was something unique; something unique in our history.”

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