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Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 10 January 2011

Embattled West Ham boss Avram Grant keeps Cup focus

Grant cagey ahead of crunch Cup clash

Carling Cup semi-final, first leg
Venue: Upton Park Date: Tuesday, 11 January Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC HD and the BBC Sport website, with highlights on The League Cup Show on Wednesday; listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobiles

West Ham manager Avram Grant has ignored further speculation over his future to concentrate on his side's Carling Cup semi-final with Birmingham.

The Hammers, who host the Blues in Tuesday's first leg at 1945 GMT live on BBC Two, have been linked with a move for ex-Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce.

Grant said: "I have answered about this a thousand times. We are here because of a semi-final, a big game.

"My position is clear. I am the manager and will do my best for the club."

The Sun newspaper has claimed that West Ham have lost faith in Grant and that the Premier League's bottom club are set to hand a six-month contract to Allardyce, who was sacked as Blackburn manager in December. .

We certainly won't be parking the bus in front of our goal

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish

The Hammers have also been mentioned as a possible destination for former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, with the club reportedly due to have a board meeting on Wednesday to discuss Grant's future.

But with West Ham on the brink of a first Wembley final since 1981, Grant - who also hit out at director Karren Brady for discussing Steve Sidwell's aborted move to Upton Park in her newspaper column - says Tuesday's first leg against Birmingham is the only matter occupying his thoughts.

"I am dealing with the problems on the pitch, and we have done that well. We still have some, so I am trying to deal only with this," the Israeli added.

"The results in the last few weeks show we are doing well. They can always be better, but we have been doing well and that is what we are concerned about.

"I have nothing to say about [the board meeting] because nobody has said anything to me about it. I don't need to answer about things which are in the paper.


"We have a game on Tuesday and that is what is important to me. If there is any personal issue, I speak to the person. I don't have to deal with it in the media. I have not done it before and don't need to do it now."

Brady used her Sun column on Saturday to explain why West Ham had pulled out of a move for Sidwell, who moved from Aston Villa to Fulham instead.

"With 13 midfielders and most of the injured players about to return, we couldn't promise him regular first-team football and he'd hardly be in a better position than at Villa Park," said Brady.

The public nature of the statement angered Grant, who followed up by saying he was more interested in his dealings with the club's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, who used to own Birmingham.

"I didn't read the column so I don't know what she said. Maybe I will have a column in a newspaper and say what I think," said Grant.

"All the things I have to say to the people at the club I say to them directly. We [Grant and Brady] don't have a problem but I speak with the owners. I'm dealing with the owners and that is the most important thing."

McLeish hoping to 'put one over' old bosses

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish says his focus is trying to put a smile on the faces of their supporters as they aim to reach a first cup final since 2001, with the Blues also struggling in the Premier League.

"It is a big challenge for us," said the Scot. "The fans are craving a bit of success at this club and we will do our very best to put a smile on their faces.

"We will be facing our former owners and football throws up these quirky challenges. We will hopefully put one over on our old bosses.

"For me it would be nice to be the manager of a club in a major English final. I've had a lot of success in Scotland in cup finals, both as a player and as a manager [at Aberdeen and Rangers], and it would be nice to get to an English cup final."

"We have the capability to win at West Ham, but we will try and be tactically right for the game and, if that means we come back with a draw or a narrow win, then so be it.

"But we certainly won't be parking the bus in front of our goal."

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see also
West Ham 2-1 Birmingham
11 Jan 11 |  League Cup
West Ham 2-0 Barnsley
08 Jan 11 |  FA Cup
Grant defiant over Hammers future
07 Jan 11 |  West Ham
Fulham complete Sidwell signing
07 Jan 11 |  Fulham
Grant stays calm after thrashing
05 Jan 11 |  Premier League
Newcastle 5-0 West Ham
05 Jan 11 |  Premier League
Grant keen to strengthen Hammers
28 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Blackburn sack manager Allardyce
13 Dec 10 |  Blackburn

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