AVRAM GRANT is finally expected to be sacked as manager of West Ham United this week, with the beleaguered Hammers realising they cannot let the uncertainty over his future drag on for much longer.
The delay in removing Grant has been caused by two factors -- the failure to agree terms with a replacement, with Martin O'Neill remaining the number one choice, and also a genuine reluctance to sack the 55-year-old Israeli, who is regarded by the club's hierarchy as a decent man working under difficult circumstances.
However, the build-up to Saturday's match against Arsenal was dominated by Grant's future, with some reports claiming he would be sacked after the game.
As well as O'Neill, West Ham have discussed the possibility of employing Sam Allardyce, although there is a nervousness over his personal demands, the number of staff he would like to bring with him and also the style of football he might use, even though he is understood to be keen on the post.
West Ham have also considered Cardiff City's Dave Jones -- who was on a list of potential targets last summer -- and even Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish, who is under pressure. The availability of former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol has also led to his name being linked with the job, along with Chris Hughton.
However, it is believed that O'Neill has always been West Ham's preferred choice should they part company with Grant, although they have been unsure as to whether the 58-year-old, who walked out on Aston Villa in August, would want to join them.
O'Neill has coveted the Liverpool job but the appointment of Kenny Dalglish, at least until the end of the season, has reduced his chances of being employed at Anfield, while he also wants assurances over transfer budgets, backroom staff and the length of his contract if he is to join West Ham.
The club's owners would prefer to offer their new manager a deal which has a lower base salary but with a big bonus to be paid if relegation is avoided.
There are also serious reservations over the strength of the squad and with less than two weeks until the transfer window closes there is a belief that players need to be recruited quickly, especially as West Ham have been hit by a severe injury crisis.
A team which has Rob Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole as its spine, and a clutch of promising youngsters, ought to have won more than four league games in 23. There are also 21 internationals in West Ham's squad. That was not evident on Saturday as they produced a supine performance against Arsenal.
Bereft of Parker, West Ham rolled over. With new signing Wayne Bridge making a shocking debut, Robin van Persie, who scored twice, and Theo Walcott carved West Ham apart. (© Daily Telegraph, London)