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Avram Grant's time at Upton Park is now up with only the timing of his departure left in doubt, but it could be before Saturday's FA Cup tie with Barnsley.

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"Big" Sam Allardyce and Chris Hughton are the favourites to take his job, and the Hammers board are now considering their options. Bottom club West Ham have a week of cup ties to give them time to appoint a new man before their next Premier League game at home to Arsenal next Saturday.

A hammering at Newcastle on Wednesday night has put the Hammers back to the foot of the table - right back where they started at Christmas, after a mini-revival at one point took them to 16th. Owners David Gold and David Sullivan have had enough.

The question is only when rather than if Grant will be fired, and it is now debatable whether he will be in charge for the FA Cup tie with Barnsley and the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final with the owners' old club Birmingham.

Grant took Portsmouth to Wembley last season, but Sullivan and Gold have lost patience, and while Grant has been on the brink before and survived, it now looks most unlikely that he will be able to pull it off again.

The club gave Grant a four-year contract only last summer, but while he has been given time because his squad have suffered a chronic run of injuries, that time and patience has now run out.

Grant went on the defensive at Newcastle on Wednesday night when he said: "We were in a worse position one month ago. It's where we are at the end of the season that matters. I feel confident I'm the man to lead us out of trouble. Look what we've done before this game. We were on the bottom but played good football to take points and climb up the table. That result is difficult to explain. It was a bad day at the office."

It seems unlikely he will get the time to rectify those problems.


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