Sunday 26 March 2017

Grant happy to welcome legend Di Canio

West Ham 3
Wigan 1

Gerry Cox

SOS stood for 'Save Our Season' according to West Ham's board, but it was nothing more than a marketing gimmick to ensure a packed house, said Avram Grant after his side's comfortable victory over fellow strugglers Wigan.

Whether the same can be said of Paolo di Canio's appearance at Upton Park this weekend is a moot point. The former West Ham striker, returning to open a lounge in his name at the stadium, got a great reception from the club's supporters, who chanted his name as he waved to them and admitted later that he would welcome more formal involvement.

They were also chanting his name at Anfield last week, by way of suggesting to the club's hierarchy that they would prefer him to Grant as their manager, and rumours of a role in the coaching set-up were not completely quashed by the Israeli on Saturday.

"He was a great player here and is always welcome," said Grant. "If he can teach our players how to play like him, I would take him. But we want to build West Ham step by step and are looking for more specific coaches. In the future we will have coaches for every department: technical side, tactical side, mental, physical. Someone to work with the strikers, and the midfielders, and so on."

Grant already has a new defensive coach, Wally Downes, who was appointed when assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic left last week. Downes was an animated presence on the touchline, barking orders to all players, not just defenders.

Even the urging of Downes could not guarantee a clean sheet, though, with Wigan's best player, Tom Cleverley, curling a shot past Robert Green in the 85th minute.

By then, West Ham were well on their way to only their second league win of the season, after goals from Valon Behrami, Victor Obinna and the outstanding Scott Parker.

Wigan's cause was not helped when Mauro Boselli missed from the penalty spot, the Argentine allowing Green to make an easy save in the 62nd minute.

Roberto Martinez admitted his side, shorn of five players through injury and suspension, were not at the races on Saturday, but is still confident they can survive. "I've got huge confidence in this squad. It's a matter of time before we get the scorelines that reflect our performances," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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