Grant jumps ship

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LONDON, May 21 – Avram Grant on Thursday resigned as manager of Portsmouth, stepping back from a role in which he won praise for his unsuccessful attempts to keep the debt-ridden team in the Premier League.The Israeli, who led Portsmouth to the FA Cup final last weekend despite the side being relegated, said quitting had been "one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to take in my football career".

"After a lot of soul searching and under the circumstances I’m taking a different direction," he said in an open letter to fans on the club’s website.

"It’s been both a difficult and complex year for us at the club, but at the same time, it’s been a wonderful and uplifting professional and personal experience."

West Ham have approached Grant to replace sacked boss Gianfranco Zola, and he is believed to have had several other offers.

The 55-year-old won praise for battling to prevent Portsmouth’s relegation against a backdrop of financial chaos at Fratton Park caused by debts of more than 130 million pounds (190 million dollars, 150 million pounds).

Grant took over from Paul Hart in November, but his time in the hotseat was beset by off-field problems as the full scale of the problems began to emerge.

The club was forced into administration in February and the Premier League deducted nine points, which all but sealed the team’s bottom-place finish and relegation to the Championship.

But Grant led his players out of the financial maelstrom to the FA Cup final at Wembley last weekend, where despite a dogged performance they went down 1-0 to his former club Chelsea.

Grant paid tribute to the club’s fans: "I will never forget you, the loyal fans of Pompey who, without a doubt, helped me protect the team under such complex circumstances.

"There are very few teams in the world that have fans as passionate and devoted as you are.

"Seeing you all so proud with your heads held up high is the best reward I can receive."

"I can never fully repay the faith and backing I got from the fans, players and staff who gave a hundred percent," he added.

He also offered to continue helping the club’s administrator, Andrew Andronikou, even after his departure.

"I will be at his disposal to assist in any way I possibly can," he said.

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