Grant: We have spirit to survive
Avram Grant believes his West Ham team’s superb second-half comeback at West Brom shows they have what it takes to beat the drop this season.
The Hammers looked down and out at the break after strikes from Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas and Winston Reid’s own goal had put Albion 3-0 up in front of their new head coach Roy Hodgson, who was watching from the stands.
But things could not have been more different after the restart as Demba Ba’s double – on his first start for the Londoners – and a header from Carlton Cole in between ensured the match finished 3-3.
West Ham, who had the likes of Robbie Keane, Victor Obinna and Matthew Upson missing due to injury, went into the game bottom of the Barclays Premier League and Grant hailed the spirit they showed to secure a draw that sees them move up to 19th – two points away from 17th-placed West Brom.
"I think we have what you need to stay up," Grant said.
"If you look at other teams, if they had the problems we have had this year, I’m sure after the first half, the spirit would be very low.
"But this team, despite what we have had this season, have shown a lot of character and spirit and I don’t think another team in this position could do that."
In the absence of Keane (calf) and Obinna (ankle), Grant was delighted to see Ba shine up front.
"It is the first game that he started and it is not easy," Grant said of the former Hoffenheim forward.
"In the first half you could see that he was not used to English football, but he adjusted very well and scored two goals. He is a good striker."
Asked what he had said to his players during the interval, Grant joked: "It is better that you don’t know!" before adding: "We just spoke about how to change the game and the way we were playing because we had started the game not organised at all.
"We gave them a lot of possession and didn’t defend well. If you don’t defend, you see what happens, but we spoke about this."
West Brom were overseen by Michael Appleton, who was put in caretaker charge last weekend following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo and will hand over the reins to Hodgson on Monday.
Appleton, previously first-team coach at The Hawthorns, revealed he had dinner with Hodgson on Friday night and that the pair are set to work together.
"I spoke to Roy last night and he said he is keen to work with me," Appleton said.
"Obviously I would be daft not to work with someone of his experience in the game.
"I’m sure that sort of thing will be qualified over the next few days from the football club, but as far as I’m concerned, he is more than happy for me to work alongside him."
Appleton, who confirmed midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu was withdrawn from the action early on as a precaution due a hamstring problem, is relishing the chance to link up with the former Liverpool manager.
"Roy has a fantastic record and has worked at some wonderful clubs in different countries," Appleton said.
"He has a wealth of experience and I can’t wait to work alongside him.
"It was my first game today and I’ve embraced it and enjoyed it, even if there was a little bit of relief towards the end to get the point."
Grant also welcomed Hodgson’s return to Premier League football.
"I like Roy – I have known him for a long time and he has had a fantastic career," the Israeli said.
"Everybody needs to respect what he has done, everywhere in the world, and I’m sure that it is a good signing for West Brom – even though I thought Di Matteo did a very good job here."