Rallying call from Grant

Grant: Time to focus

West Ham manager Avram Grant has told everybody connected with the club to forget what might happen and instead focus on securing Barclays Premier League survival.

The Hammers head into Saturday’s vital clash with fellow strugglers Blackburn languishing rock bottom and on the back of a terrible run of form, which has seen them fail to win in any competition for more than two months.

The east London side have three matches left to stave off relegation to the npower Championship and lie three points off safety.

Despite the need to focus on football, the past few weeks have been peppered with stories relating to what could happen if the Hammers get relegated.

Last week Grant had to brush off comments from co-owner David Sullivan after he questioned the players’ commitment and survival hopes.

The former Chelsea and Portsmouth manager headed into this week’s press conference on the back of fellow owner David Gold’s comments that their England internationals would have to part from the club if they are relegated.

“Why do I need to answer that question? If, if, if, if,” he said when asked about the situation regarding the likes of Matthew Upson, Robert Green, Carlton Cole and Scott Parker.

“We want to stay in the league, we believe we can stay in the league and we believe we deserve to stay in the league.

“We are playing football that deserves to stay in the league. Unfortunately, we are on our last players but we think we can go to be out of this.

“And we will do everything to do this because it is not easy but still possible. I don’t want to think negatively.”

The subject of Grant’s own future was also broached after reports emerged this week suggesting the Hammers have drawn up a list of potential replacements.

Asked about the stories, he retorted: “So what’s new? I am not paying attention to this.

“I say to the players and everybody it is not a time to think about yourselves. It is time to think about the team.

“I have been in this job a long time. I have faced a lot of speculation. I have a job to do and that is the only thing that is important right now.”

The Hammers follow tomorrow’s clash by travelling to Wigan, before ending the season with a home match against Sunderland.

Grant admitted the Rovers match could be a “double bonus” as defeat would drag their opponents into the mire, although he was keen to insist that the match with Steve Kean’s side is his only focus.

“I don’t think we need to think about the three games, we need to think about the next game,” he said.

“Tomorrow is the most important because this is very important for us, as well as for Blackburn.

“We are only thinking about ourselves, though, and are not thinking about the next three games after.

“It is a double bonus but we are thinking about ourselves,” he continued.

“We know that the other teams also do not have easy games up until the end of the season so first of all we need to do our job and to think about other things.”

Grant could well head into the Rovers match without England international Parker due to an Achilles complaint that has seen him miss the recent defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City.

Grant admits Parker’s return would be a welcome bonus but says he is “not so optimistic” that he will be able to include him.

“If he can play I want him to play,” he added. “I am not sure what is 80% or 100% but with Scotty you never know.

“Before the Liverpool game there was not even a 10% chance he would play but he played.

“So we need to wait and see because if he is fit I want him to play.”


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