Grant happy with team-bonding

The Hammers fought back from 3-0 down to pick up a point at

relegation rivals West Brom last Saturday and move off the foot of

the Premier League table. The second-half comeback, which was

inspired by captain Scott Parker’s rousing half-time team-talk,

came as a huge relief for Grant and his side after the previous

weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Birmingham. The team

were rewarded for their draw with a trip to the Red Lodge karting

track in Newmarket, East Cambridge, yesterday when they raced

against each other before taking part in some clay-pigeon shooting

nearby. Hammers strikers Carlton Cole and Zavon Hines have both

expressed their delight at the team-bonding session and Grant also

believes it has helped the squad become closer – something that

will be vital in the weeks ahead. “We are playing on Monday this

week and our last game was Saturday so we decided to take the

individuals to be as a team together,” Grant said. “We did

go-karting and other things like clay-pigeon shooting too. “It was

good for the team. It was very successful. “It was nice to watch

them enjoying themselves away from everything.” Cole took his tally

to three goals in five games when he scored the Hammers’ second

goal in the six-goal thriller at the Hawthorns. The England striker

combined well with new signing Demba Ba in the absence of the

injured Robbie Keane and he thinks morale within the squad has

improved greatly after their trip to Cambridgeshire. “Team spirit

is a vital weapon to have,” Cole said on Twitter after the game.

“Sometimes you need to come out of familiar surroundings &

learn about one another in different circumstances. “I firmly

believe all of my team mates will go that extra mile to get us out

the predicament we find ourselves in. “We will fight as a team,

together as one, we showed great team spirit and now is the time

for us to show it on the pitch, starting from Monday. “I will be

greatly disappointed if we don’t leave Upton Park with nothing less

than a victory.” Grant and his side must temporarily forget about

their battle with relegation on Monday when they take on Burnley in

the fifth round of the FA Cup at Upton Park. The Hammers have

performed well outside of the league this season, brushing aside

leaders Manchester United in the Carling Cup before being denied a

date at Wembley by a defeat to Birmingham in the semi-finals. The

former Chelsea boss has fond memories of the FA Cup, having taken

Portsmouth to the final last year, and he now hopes to make it to

the last eight with a win over the Clarets on Monday night. “I

really like the FA Cup, it is always exciting,” Grant said. “It’s a

good competition and sometimes it gives you a break from the league

which is good.” Eddie Howe has lost only once since being appointed

Burnley manager last month and the Lancashire club are only nine

places below West Ham in the league ladder. Grant encountered tough

games against Championship side Coventry and League One neighbours

Southampton on the road to Wembley with Pompey last season and that

experience has made him sure that Monday’s game will be tough.

“It’s always good to play at home but I know it will not be an easy

game,” Grant said. “I know from playing against lower-league teams

in the past, they want to beat Premier League teams a lot. For them

the FA Cup is everything. “We know that and we will have to prepare

for what will be a difficult game.”