It is very hard to sit here and write much of a defence of Avram Grant when we finished rock bottom of the Premier League after he had one terrible season with us.
The club had its soul ripped out by the man and people do not realise what a great job Big Sam did in restoring this to get us back up. However, was he the worst manager in the club’s history?
If you look at statistics there were two managers with a lower win record than Grant. Zola has the lowest, but he didn’t relegate us like the others, and the next is Glenn Roeder. I admit Roeder and Grant’s records are very similar, but the facts don’t lie – Roeder’s win record is worse.
Let’s face it, when Avram Grant was appointed we were all quite excited as he had just led Portsmouth to an FA Cup final and had been a John Terry penalty slip away from winning the Champions League with Chelsea.
When I have questioned The West Ham Way writer about Grant’s appointment he says that his dad said: “He is extremely good at interviews” and on paper it looked a much better appointment than Glenn Roeder, a manager who had been sacked at low league clubs at the time in Watford and Gillingham.”
Grant didn’t have the biggest budget as the new chairman had just inherited a huge debt from the Icelandic’s tenure at the club and therefore spent approximately £10m (far less than Roeder had spent during his time) on the likes of Hitzlsberger (unfortunate) Winston Reid (a great signing), Pablo Barrera (not a good signing), Freddie Piquionne (oh dear), Ben-Haim (oops), Obinna on loan (inconsistent), Jacobsen (fairly decent for a free) and Ruud Boffin (great name).
The lack of budget meant he had to skimp around to improve a team that had finished 17th under Zola and only just stayed up because there were three dreadful teams below us.
This was an almost impossible task, which was made even harder when one of his best signings, Hitzlsberger, was injured in pre-season and missed a huge majority of the season. Having won all the pre-season games against very impressive competition, this injury knocked the team for six.
What was made worse was that in January the board had become disgruntled with him and Martin O’Neill was lined up as the new manager – this was made extremely public with Grant seemingly saying goodbye to the fans at one home game.
The fact that his appointment was so public led Martin to pull out and Avram to stay in his post. His position had clearly been undermined and he had no chance to recover. We signed the likes of Demba Ba, Robbie Keane, Wayne Bridge and Gary O’Neil, and Ba almost scored the goals to keep us up but it wasn’t to be. It is important to remember that we reached the Carling Cup Semi-Final that year, narrowly missing out to Birmingham, and the 6th round of the FA Cup, too.
I can’t tell you Grant was a great manager, far from it, but I would put him as our SECOND worst manager in our history. It is important to remember the squad he inherited and that the club was going through a bit period of change that made things extremely difficult.
On the other hand, Glenn Roeder had the following players available to him in the year we were relegated:
1 David James
2 Tomáš Řepka
3 Nigel Winterburn
4 Don Hutchison
5 Lee Bowyer
6 Michael Carrick
7 Christian Dailly
8 Trevor Sinclair
9 Jermain Defoe
10 Paolo Di Canio
11 Steve Lomas
14 Frédéric Kanouté
15 Gary Breen
16 John Moncur
19 Ian Pearce
20 Scott Minto
21 Richard Garcia
22 Les Ferdinand
23 Glen Johnson
24 Rufus Brevett
25 Édouard Cissé (on loan from PSG)
26 Joe Cole (captain)
29 Titi Camara
30 Sébastien Schemmel
That is an amazing amount of talent to choose from and needs no further detail. How did that squad get relegated??
You cannot look further than the manager! He isolated West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio and banished him to the reserves and chose to play Centre Back Ian Pearce upfront, instead of one of the most gifted players to ever grace Upton Park.
Glenn had a habit of doing this to club legends, he did the same at Norwich. He treated their best player Darren Huckerby with no respect and didn’t offer him a new deal, which ultimately saw his downfall there.
That, mixed in with the fact that at a fans forum he said to Norwich fans when questioning him over Huckerby: “You have no right to question me, I must have missed your spell as England manager.”
When I was at a West Ham meeting with Glenn I questioned him on why Di Canio always took the corners when he wasn’t very good at them (believe it or not).
I felt Carrick would get much better whip on it and would be far more dangerous. I was shocked at his response: “You try telling Paolo not to take them.”
When I said that it is the manager’s job he said: “He doesn’t listen to me.”
This summed up the respect that the players had for him. What was even more surprisinG about this meeting was when he asked his audience, all people who were quite respected at the club and in the game, to pray for him to help us stay up.
We thought he was joking but he actually stopped talking for a minute and told us to think positive thoughts!
Towards the end of the season Glenn was sadly taken ill and replaced by Trevor Brooking. The first thing he did was bring back Di Canio and then go on to win two games and draw one from the last three matches of the season, and almost keep us up. It therefore proved that it wasn’t the, team it was the manager.
After relegation, Glenn returned to the manager’s spot and we were just as bad in the Championship, despite having Carrick, Defoe and James and Roeder was sacked at Rotherham. People say we were unlucky to go down with 42 points, Sir Trevor Brooking won seven of those points!
Grant was awful, Roeder was absolutely useless and unfortunately goes down in my eyes as our worst ever manager.
Who do you think is West Ham’s worst ever manager between the two? Take the poll below…
— TheWestHamWayCoUk (@WestHamWaycouk) December 24, 2015
Do you agree with West Ham World that Grant is the worst manager in our history or with ExWHUEmployee and TheWestHamWay.co.uk that Roeder was? Let us know.