It was the worse kept secret in the Premier League. West Ham finally named Avram Grant as their new manager yesterday on a four-year deal. It is the Israeli's reward for a 2009/10 season in which he took financially-crippled Portsmouth to the FA Cup final. The return to London gives him a chance to go another step towards restoring his reputation in England, after being sacked by Chelsea in the summer of 2008.
Grant, who left Pompey by mutual consent two weeks ago, took Chelsea to within one missed penalty kick of the Champions League trophy in 2008, before making way for Luiz Felipe Scolari. Grant, 55, appears to have swapped one struggling side for another. Grant replaced Paul Hart at Portsmouth in November 2009 as they became the first top-flight club to go into administration. They were eventually docked nine points which sealed their inevitable relegation, but their performances, especially in reaching the FA Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Chelsea, were testament to Grant's ability to work in adversity.
West Ham did not fare much better last season. They avoided relegation by one place, resulting in the sacking of Gianfranco Zola, the Italian, after two years in charge. The club have also had financial problems in recent seasons - partly due to an inflated wage-bill and partly because of the collapse of Landsbanki, the Icelandic bank of which Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, their former owner, was a major shareholder,
David Gold and David Sullivan, the former owners of Birmingham City, completed their purchase of the club in January and have signalled their intent to get the team back among English football's elite. "We needed experience and stability. He's a footballing man and his reputation speaks for itself," said Gold on West Ham's website. "Having met Avram and spent some time with him, we have got our man. He is a perfect fit."