Avram Grant's chances of remaining as West Ham manager were dwindling rapidly yesterday, with the club said to be actively considering appointing a replacement.
A preferred candidate has been identified as Grant's successor, with a second name understood to be on the shortlist should the club's co-owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, decide to sack the 55-year-old Israeli.
It was unclear last night whether a formal approach had been made -- with former Premier League managers Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce still out of work -- but West Ham have cancelled today's press conference ahead of their FA Cup third-round tie at home to Barnsley, at which Grant was due to speak. The club claimed this was because of their heavy fixture commitments.
It is understood that there is an outside chance that Grant might still be in charge for the game. If so, it remains possible that he will be sacked before Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final against Birmingham.
They have certainly considered an approach to former Blackburn boss Allardyce, although it is understood that his financial demands may be prohibitive as he ponders a move to Qatar.
There is also the prospect of an offer being made to the other manager sacked from the Premier League this season, Hughton, a former West Ham player.
The 5-0 thrashing at Hughton's former club, Newcastle, on Wednesday appears to have been a tipping point for Grant, whose team dropped back to the bottom of the Premier League table. It was the manner of the loss which -- combined with other results -- has pushed the club's hierarchy into finally deciding that a change is needed if the Hammers are to avoid relegation this season.
Grant is understood to believe that he still enjoys the full backing of the club's board, although he issued an apology, via email, to supporters yesterday for the abject nature of the defeat at St James' Park, all the more galling for fans as Newcastle are now led by former West Ham manager Alan Pardew.
"I make no excuses. Everything went wrong last night, but we must remember the form shown in four previous unbeaten matches," Grant wrote in a message that was similar to the explanation he gave to the club's board. "It is difficult to explain what happened. It was a bad day at the office." (© Daily Telegraph, London)