Is Avram Grant a good football manager or not? Frankly, I haven’t the foggiest.
Prior to his time at West Ham, he’d been in charge at two Premier League clubs, and on both occasions was the beneficiary of circumstances which either made him look good, or rendered him immune from criticism.
At Chelsea he inherited a team and set of players who required little-to-no adjustment. In his brief but brilliantly successful time at the club, Jose Mourinho had installed a tactical discipline and will to win that remains to this day. Ending as runner-up in three competitions was the genesis of Grant’s reputation as a gallant loser.
It was a persona that he cemented in his time at Portsmouth. Their financial troubles and eventual points deduction made any positive result both an achievement and a surprise. To gain a measure of the goodwill towards Grant, just recall the muted reaction to his alleged visit to a brothel as compared to Wayne Rooney’s recent travails.
Despite relegation, Grant departed Portsmouth with his reputation intact – even enhanced. His appointment at West Ham, however, was met with a mixed reaction by supporters, and any initial doubts have been confirmed after a return of zero points from their opening four games. For the first time in a long time, Grant is being exposed to criticism. The fixture list has dealt him a cruel hand, whilst the transfer funds he was promised have never materialised.
This season, unlike last, Grant will not be spared by the press when it comes for blame to be apportioned. The plight of Portsmouth induced empathy in neutrals and the media. West Ham’s popularity, meanwhile, is spiraling downwards under the ownership of the Gollivan monster. In many ways, Grant’s best hope is that the fans turn on the owners before the coach. One suspects, however, that Gold & Sullivan are too savvy to allow that to happen.
The current odds of 11/4 on him being the next Premier League manager to leave his post seem remarkably long. Grant’s luck may have finally deserted him.