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O'Neill in frame to succeed Grant

MARTIN O'NEILL and Sam Allardyce are both in the frame should West Ham United sack Avram Grant as their manager.

Cardiff City's Dave Jones has also been discussed as a possible replacement for Grant, who remains under severe pressure at Upton Park.

Despite that, the club's board are believed to have been deeply impressed by West Ham's gutsy 2-1 victory over Birmingham City in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Upton Park on Tuesday night, after the team were reduced to 10 men.

A decision was taken yesterday morning -- ahead of a scheduled board meeting -- that Grant would remain in charge for Saturday's Premier League meeting against Arsenal.

With the club not expecting Grant to gain any points in that fixture, it appears his fate is linked to whether the right replacement can be persuaded to take over, and that process is dragging on.

The hiatus has not stopped West Ham from recruiting, with England left-back Wayne Bridge sealing a six-month loan deal from Manchester City.

The Hammers beat Aston Villa to the signing after also agreeing to pay Bridge's £90,000-a-week wages. West Ham have also not given up hope of signing Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane.

There does remain a reluctance in the club's hierarchy to sack Grant, who joined only last summer in a four-year deal. Nevertheless, his relationship with the club's vice-chairperson Karren Brady has become strained.

The tension emerged last weekend after the manager criticised Brady for comments she made in her newspaper column following the decision not to sign Steve Sidwell from Aston Villa. It is believed that Brady is not convinced that Grant will save West Ham from relegation.

Chairman David Sullivan, meanwhile, is understood to be less certain that he wants to make a change but will act if he has to, while Sullivan's co-chairman David Gold, it is believed, thinks that Grant should be given more time to turn things around, even though West Ham have slumped back to the bottom of the table.

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According to sources close to Grant, it is believed he thinks it is now only a matter of time before he is replaced. However, both O'Neill and Allardyce would demand significant investment in the team and the employment of their back-room staffs, which might prove expensive, especially as Grant would have to be paid off.

They may also demand longer-term contracts than West Ham would want to offer, given the club's relegation plight. At the same time, O'Neill is believed to harbour hopes of becoming the next Liverpool manager, while Allardyce has a lucrative job offer in the Middle East.


If neither can be persuaded, West Ham may turn to Jones, who was under consideration -- along with Blackpool's Ian Holloway and, indeed, Allardyce -- last summer before Grant was hired, but there does remain a reluctance to make a change. Cardiff currently lie second in the Championship.

After Arsenal, West Ham face Everton away on Saturday week and then have the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final away to Birmingham, but it would be highly unsatisfactory for Grant to continue until then without a public declaration in his favour from the board.

It had been hoped that his future would be decided by this weekend but there has clearly either been a change of heart or a failure to resolve who will replace him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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