WAYNE BRIDGE last night agreed terms to move on loan from Manchester City to West Ham until the end of the season -- but the chances of manager Avram Grant being there to wave him off in May are slim indeed.
West Ham have agreed to pay all of Bridge's £90,000-a-week wages to bring the former England left-back to the club and he will have a medical today before joining up with his new team-mates ahead of tonight's Carling Cup semi-final first leg with Birmingham City.
Bridge, who turned down a similar deal with Aston Villa, is an expensive option for the Premier League basement boys.
It seems increasingly unlikely that Grant will be given the time to oversee any great escape. Grant never displays the air of a man brimming with confidence, but even by his own hang-dog standards he seemed like a man resigned to his fate yesterday.
Sam Allardyce is the man most likely to be parachuted in, despite objections from Hammers fans.
Gallows humour was very much in evidence from Grant yesterday. Asked whether the club's owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, had sent him a message of what they expect before tonight's Carling Cup encounter with their former club Birmingham, he joked: "If you can lose by as many as you can," as if such a heavy defeat would serve to make their inevitable decision to replace him more palatable.
Grant's Chelsea side reached the finals of the Carling Cup and the Champions League in 2008, losing to Spurs and Manchester United respectively, and last season his Portsmouth team reached the FA Cup final, where they were beaten by Chelsea. Semi-finals seem to be his speciality.
Grant refused to discuss his long-term future yesterday, but he seems doomed, even though West Ham have won three of their past six games and are only two points away from 14th place.
"This is the best period the team have had all season," Grant said. "Also we have had big difficulties, players out injured.
"However the reality is that we did a good few weeks so this is a strange situation but sometimes we need to deal with things we don't like." (©Independent News Service)
West Ham v Birmingham City,
Live, BBC2, 7.45