Tuesday 21 November 2017

Abject Anfield showing leaves Grant teetering on the brink

Liverpool 3 West Ham 0

Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates after his team scored against West Ham. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates after his team scored against West Ham. Photo: Reuters

The attempts of West Ham's great and good to support Avram Grant may be admirable but his hold on the manager's position looks shakier than ever.

Just a few days after vice-chairman Karren Brady gave assurances that Grant is safe and will have money to spend in January, another abject performance was ridiculed by the club's fans. Next Saturday's home match against Wigan at Upton Park is already being viewed as his last chance to save his job.

West Ham's travelling support have had little choice but to turn to self-mocking at Anfield over the years but rarely is a manager ever taunted in such a way and rarer still is there a way back from it.

There was a clear message behind the chants of "Paolo Di Canio" from the West Ham fans.

It was reminiscent of the reception received by Gerry Francis as his Spurs side slipped to a 4-0 defeat at Anfield just over 13 years ago when each Liverpool goal was greeted with chants of "Bye, bye Gerry". One week and another defeat later, Francis had resigned.

Grant also retains the support, publicly at least, from co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan and maintains he can sort out a squad who have won just once in 14 Premier League matches and are five points from safety at the bottom of the table.

"It's the time," Grant said. "We've played 14 games now and we have a lot of time to improve it, but we need to start very quickly. I'm optimistic it can happen. The next game is very important and we need to win."

For Liverpool, the return of Glen Johnson, who has struggled with an ankle injury in recent weeks, made a significant difference but, like his team, he will be better judged at White Hart Lane next Sunday.

Against little resistance, Johnson opened the scoring from a Raul Meireles corner. Dirk Kuyt scored a second from the penalty spot before Maxi Rodriguez added Liverpool's third before half-time.

His impressive performance came a week after sources close to Johnson had suggested his relationship with Hodgson had broken down completely in the wake of what were taken to be negative comments from his manager.

On the evidence of much of this year, talk of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid waiting in the wings was surely fanciful and it makes sense for Johnson to attempt to resolve any issues with Hodgson and justify his huge wages at Liverpool.

"I didn't need to hear it from the boss that I wasn't playing well," Johnson said. "I'm an honest man and I know how well I can play and I hadn't been doing that so it was nice to do well. It's always nice to get back off the treatment bench and nice to get back with a goal. It's nice to play again. I'd missed six out of the last seven games so it's nice to get back into it and it was nice to come back with a goal." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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