Grant won’t set points target

West Ham manager Avram Grant has refused to set his side a points target to stave off relegation but predicts teams will need more than 40 points to stay in the Premier League.

The Hammers endured a tumultuous start to the season but have impressed of late, hauling themselves off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone in the process.

However, with eight games remaining the London outfit still teeter dangerously close to the precipice and face league leaders Manchester United on Saturday.

Grant is targeting another victory against United after thrashing them 4-0 in the Carling Cup the last time the pair met, but the Hammers boss insists that consistency rather than a points target will be most important in the run-in.

“We have spoken about being more consistent in our games and making a good balance between defence and offence,” he said. “We have also talked about scoring more goals and conceding less goals and about how we do it. We train different too.

“But I don’t believe in [having a points target] so much because last year West Ham stayed in the league with 35 points. The year before it was 35, two years before it was 38 and this season I think it will be 40 and more.

“We want to take as many points as we can and then who knows, nobody knows. I don’t think one manager knows how many points will be enough to stay in the league.”

Just eight points separate Bolton in seventh spot and the final relegation berth in one of the tightest relegation run-ins of recent years.

Even bottom club Wigan are within ten points of Owen Coyle’s side and Grant admits the fact so many teams are in the relegation battle is comforting.

“We have thought about this but I am sure other teams are thinking the same thing,” he said. “Every team can be relegated and every team can be in 11th place at the end of the season, but we are only thinking about ourselves.

“I think we showed many good things even in the first half of the season and now things are better, we are more consistent. If we only think about ourselves we can do it. It will be tough, it is not easy and we don’t have easy games but also if you look at our games we are not an easy team to beat.”

The Hammers can welcome back Frederic Piquionne and Robbie Keane from injury this weekend as Grant looks to upset Sir Alex Ferguson’s side once again at Upton Park.

The Red Devils head to East London beset with injuries, although Grant has rejected the notion that this will be a big advantage to West Ham.

“We don’t have a fully-fit squad but we have more than we used to,” he added. “When West Ham have two or three players injured it looks like there are no injuries because you are used to 10 or 11 injuries.

“But United are a very good team. In any position they have two or three very good players. They are in the first place in the league and we fully respect them, but we need to think about ourselves. From the last seven games I think we have lost only one and we have improved a lot.

“I have not seen the statistics but if you compare the second half of the league [season] to the first I think we have improved more than 50% and we want to continue with this.”

As seen on ESPN Soccernet:


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