Avram Grant led Portsmouth to the FA Cup final where they lost 1-0 to Chelsea
Avram Grant has resigned as manager of relegated Portsmouth, the debt-ridden south-coast club has confirmed.
The 55-year old Israeli announced his decision to leave the beaten FA Cup finalists in an open letter to fans.
"This was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to take in my football career," he said.
Grant, who took over from Paul Hart at Fratton Park in November, is reportedly set to join West Ham, who say they will name their new manager by 2 June.
The Hammers sacked boss Gianfranco Zola on 11 May following a Premier League campaign that almost ended in relegation.
The east London club said in a statement on Friday: "We are making good progress in the search for a new manager and the appointment will be made by early June.
"The club is in the middle of a thorough selection process which could continue over the next 12 days before being finalised. The new manager will then have a month to prepare for the start of pre-season, with all at the club determined to improve on the previous campaign."
The likes of Mark Hughes, Paolo Di Canio, Slaven Bilic and Ian Holloway have been tipped to take over at Upton Park, but BBC football pundit Steve Claridge expects Grant to succeed Zola.
"Not many managers walk out of a job without having another one readily available to them," Claridge commented. "If my money was going anywhere it would be on him going to West Ham."
The former Portsmouth striker added: "I would not have thought it was the hardest decision for him. I don't think he would have fancied managing in the Championship - I am not sure how much he even knows about the Championship."
Grant arrived as Portsmouth's director of football in October 2009 but replaced Paul Hart as manager the following month, with the club bottom of the league with just seven points from 13 games.
I have been inundated with letters and emails from fans. Many have brought tears to my eyes - and, take it from me, it takes a lot to do that
Crippled by financial problems, the club went into administration in February and were subsequently deducted nine points by the Premier League - a punishment that all but condemned them to relegation.
They went on to finish bottom of the table on 19 points but reached the FA Cup final, losing the Wembley showpiece 1-0 to Grant's former club Chelsea.
"After a lot of soul searching and under the circumstances, I'm taking a different direction," explained Grant in a statement made via the Portsmouth website.
He won 10, lost 16 and drew seven of his 33 matches in charge.
"Portsmouth has given me a feeling of home away from home. I might be leaving Portsmouth physically, but you cannot take Portsmouth away from me and my heart.
"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.
"I have been inundated with letters and emails from fans. Many have brought tears to my eyes - and, take it from me, it takes a lot to do that.
"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."
Peter Storrie, who quit as Portsmouth chief executive in March, is currently working as a consultant to the club and is unsurprised that Grant's efforts at Fratton Park have attracted attention.
"I think Avram has done such a fantastic job down here," he told BBC Radio 5 live.
"I am sure there are a lot of clubs interested in him and rightly so because he has shown everyone what a very, very good manager he is and how well he works with players.
"The issue of a replacement is one is for the administrators. I am sure they will be speaking to a lot of different people and getting a lot of different advice, but obviously the coaches are still at the club at the moment and they will speak to them as well."
Storrie also denied that Grant's departure would be followed by the sale of much of the first-team squad.
"It is not so many as people think. Probably about three or four," he said when asked how many players might leave.
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