Sands of time running out on Hammers

TIME is fast running out for Avram Grant and his West Ham side although the manager remains defiant, insisting the club can overturn the steadily lengthening odds and avoid relegation.

The mathematics are getting complicated but will count for nothing if the Hammers fail to win at Wigan Athletic next weekend.

Should they claim three points at the DW Stadium, it is highly likely they will be involved in a nerve-shredding final day, although their plight wasn’t helped by Wolves’ victory yesterday.

The end game is near and already the post-mortem is being conducted. Should he help negotiate his side’s survival, Grant has no doubt about the scale of the achievement, ranking it as one of the most significant of his career.

“I think it will be up there,” said the manager. “I believe so much in this club. I didn’t look for a job, I came here because I believe in this club. I have known this club since I was young and I believe this is a good club, with good supporters and good atmosphere and we can create very good things.

“We knew this would be a difficult season and our target was to stay in the league. I want so much to stay in the league because I know if we stay in the league the future will be good because since January we have deserved so much more.”

Hope is one thing, ability is quite another. West Ham have taken one point from their last six league games and while the manager remains adamant the team have deserved greater reward, the table tells another story with the club rooted at the bottom four points from safety.

“Our football isn’t as good as the top six but it is as good as mid-table,” he said. “But I think more than this, since January 90% of the team did well. Now we are missing three from the four midfield so we have dealt with this well. But I cannot argue that we don’t take points. This is very frustrating.”

Grant had every right to be frustrated at his side’s failure to claim all three points. Victory would have been theirs had Robbie Keane made proper contact with Frederic Piquionne’s cross three minutes from time.

Instead, West Ham were forced to make do with the point salvaged by Thomas Hitzlsperger’s 78th-minute equaliser that cancelled out Jason Roberts’ 13th-minute opening goal.

“Robbie Keane is not happy,” Grant said. “We brought him here to score. The last three games he had three big chances to score. But I cannot blame him. He made a good move against Chelsea, a good move against City, a great move today to create the chance but I feel sorry about him, although I don’t want to feel sorry about any player. He did everything good.

“He’s not happy because he missed a chance. He’s a good lad and I don’t have any intention to kill him.”

And he added. “The players still believe. But football is a game of chances and taking chances. But this season we have not taken maybe 20% of chances.

“This is the story of our year. So this is why I am talking about the football side. ”

Blackburn also remain in the relegation fight three points clear of the bottom three and with remaining games against Manchester United and Wolves, they can afford to take nothing for granted.

This season has been a baptism of fire for manager Steve Kean, who was appointed following the controversial dismissal of Sam Allardyce.

Kean, though, is anticipating nothing less than a happy ending to a difficult campaign.

“I’ve got a good group of players who give me everything,” he said. “I’ve got owners who are backing me to the hilt. They did in the last transfer window and will do in the next. You don’t take positive results in five out of the last seven games if the group is not together. So we just keep going.”

I’ll take the blame, says boss Avram

WEST HAM boss Avram Grant took full responsibility for his club’s struggles as the Hammers teeter on the brink of relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Thomas Hitzlsperger’s equaliser earned a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Blackburn on Saturday but Grant’s side remain at the foot of the table with just two games to play.

The trip to Wigan next Saturday looks likely to be a make or break clash for both sides as they fight for survival and a win at the DW Stadium could yet keep the Hammers in the top flight for a seventh successive season.

Whether or not Grant — who was roundly booed by the Upton Park crowd when he appeared on the big screen during the first half — will still be in his post if they do remains unclear but the Israeli refused to shy away from the pressure he is under.

He said: “It’s my responsibility. My responsibility.

“I cannot argue with the position.

“I want the results to be better. I’m not looking for excuses or saying we have no luck, but we need a bit of this.

“It could help. You need to wait and see about my position. My position is not important.”


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