Avram Grant must love a challenge. Last year he took on the impossible task of trying to keep a debt-ridden Portsmouth in the Premier League, and this term he has turned his attentions to ensuring West Ham don’t also suffer the embarrassment of relegation.
While it has not exactly been the start that the former Chelsea boss would have hoped for with the Hammers currently sitting bottom of the league, they are currently on a four game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Tomorrow they entertain Newcastle United, and a win could be just be a much needed kick-start for their season
But it won’t be easy for the Hammers, Chris Houghton’s side have made a fairly solid start to life back in the big time, and while they may lack the big names of the Newcastle sides of old they will stole pose a real threat for Grant’s side.
Newcastle have been very much hit and miss so far this season, a disappointing home defeat to Blackpool was followed by an impressive win at Everton and it has been this inconsistency that see’s the Toon sitting in 16th place.
Key to any success for the visitors could be Andy Carroll. The striker has had well documented personal problems of late with the last week that has seeing him released on police bail for assault before having his car torched. It is debatable whether Carroll will be in the right frame of mind to produce his best, but if he can stay focused on the game, Newcastle could gain another impressive win on the road.
But the Hammers will go in to the game with every chance of getting their first win of the season. Their second half display at Wolves last weekend demonstrated that the Upton Park club may just have turned the corner, and in truth they probably should have won the game after Frédéric Piquionne controversially saw a goal disallowed for handball.
Piquionne is just starting to find some form with three goals in his last three games. The powerful forward showed last season that he can score goals, and if he and Carlton Cole can develop a partnership West Ham should have too much elsewhere in the squad to see off the threat of relegation for another year.
But they need to start picking up wins and this could start with this crucial game for the Hammers. A win is much needed and could set the tone for a season where Grant is rewarded for taking on another daunting task. But defeat and the knives may well be out and Grant could be looking for his next big challenge.