Seriously, does anyone even have the slightest sliver of an inkling?
Roughly six hours before the first-string were about to kick-off against Arsenal, word broke from somewhere inside the West Ham camp via the BBC’s diligent Sport team that former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill was duly waiting in the wings to take over from beleaguered incumbent Avram Grant at the Upton Park helm – completely regardless of the result against the Gunners.
Now, I think we can safely assume that the Beeb don’t employ military torture techniques to get their sources to squeal anymore, and the general consensus is that the West Ham board’s plans to replace Grant with O’Neill hadn’t left the boardroom at that stage – so the question presumably whirling around the fevered minds of all-but-one of the club’s top-rankers is: Just who said what to whom in order for such a sensitive leak to eventually wind up on Aunties’ doorstep?
To which I must confess, I haven’t got a sodding clue – which, all-in-all, is nicely inkeeping with the theme.
Any road up, it seems that the aforementioned leak has not gone down too well with Mr O’Neill, who is (according to both the Guardian and the Telegraph) now threatening to renege on his apparent agreement with the West Ham board, having come over all ‘unimpressed’ after witnessing their monumental cock-up first hand.
West Ham’s co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan entered negotiations with O’Neill’s representatives at the beginning of last week, with a lucrative short-term deal eventually put on the table that would/will see the Northern Irishman take over the ailing club until the end of the season.
However, fairly unsurprisingly the tentative agreement has been thrown into doubt by the manner in which the privacy of the potential deal was, or more accurately in this case, wasn’t upheld.
From the Guardian‘s report:
“O’Neill is believed to be disappointed with [the way the leak has made it seem as if] he has accepted a position before the manager in post has been dismissed.
There is an unwritten rule among managers that they should not pursue a job while someone else is still in place, and although it is fact of life that clubs will nearly always make soundings before sacking the man in charge, those discussions are generally kept private.
West Ham’s failure to do so has made the whole episode look undignified.”
And you can’t really say any fairer than that, can you?
Amidst the churning hoo-ha, Grant was taken on the semblance, both literally and figuratively, of a ‘dead man walking’.
Speaking after his side were duly dismantled 3-0 at home by Arsenal, the Israeli – looking decidely green around the gills – again seemed resigned (awful pun unashamedly intended) to his impending fate:
“I prefer to talk about football rather than answer questions about other things around, especially when I am not the man you need to be asking.
I have two choices and chose to focus on football. I want to focus on the thing I can control and this is the team.”
One thing is now almost certain. He won’t have to concern himself with that bunch of shambling, rudderless feckwits (bar, of course, the majestic Scott Parker) for much longer.