LONDON, June 3 – West Ham have appointed Avram Grant as their new manager on a four-year contract, subject to a work permit, the Premier League club confirmed on Thursday.The Hammers have been searching for a boss since Gianfranco Zola was sacked at the end of an unsuccessful season for the east London outfit.
The 55-year-old Israeli led Portsmouth to last month’s FA Cup final before leaving Fratton Park two weeks ago and also coached Chelsea into the 2008 Champions League final.
"I’m proud and honoured to be the manager of West Ham. It’s an exciting challenge and I’m ready to do my best," Grant told the club’s official website, www.whufc.com.
West Ham narrowly avoided the drop last season as they finished fourth from bottom of the Premier League and the club’s co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold were keen to appoint a more experienced boss.
Grant fills that billing perfectly after his spell in charge of Chelsea, which ended in 2008 shortly after the team’s penalty shoot-out defeat by Manchester United in the Champions League final.
He returned to the Premier League with Portsmouth last October, first as director of football and then as manager following Paul Hart’s exit.
Despite horrendous financial constraints which left the club in administration with debts of over 130 million pounds (190 million dollars) and the team relegated due to a nine-point deduction, Grant won praise for the way he kept his players movitated on the road to Wembley in the FA Cup.
However, Grant will be looking forward to focusing solely on football matters rather than money problems when he arrives at Upton Park.
"West Ham is a fantastic club with great fans and a history that is respected around the world," Grant said.
"I’m already looking forward to getting to work with my players in July and preparing for the new season."
Sullivan and Gold jointly acclaimed Grant’s arrival as the "beginning of a new era at West Ham United".
The club were saved more by the shortcomings of the teams below them than their own efforts, forcing Gold and Sullivan to remove Zola.
"I have to say that having met Avram and spent some time with him that we have got our man. He is a perfect fit," Gold said.
"We needed experience and stability. He’s a footballing man and quite frankly his reputation speaks for itself.
"He has a great sense of humour and I’m sure the players will relate to him and the fans will warm to him."
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway, Cardiff manager Dave Jones and Sam Allardyce of Blackburn had also been linked with the job.
"I’m delighted to welcome Avram to West Ham and am confident he will prove a success," Sullivan added.
"We have taken our time over this appointment and are certain we have got the right man.
"We are all looking forward to next season with new players coming in and Avram’s arrival is just the latest reason for real optimism."