West Ham have appointed former Brentford manager Wally Downes as a specialist defensive coach.
The rock-bottom Hammers have conceded 25 times in their first 14 Premier League games and the club’s owners have appointed Downes in a bid to assist under-fire manager Avram Grant with stemming the alarming flow of goals.
The appointment was made just before the Hammers decided to axe Grant’s assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic, but it is understood Downes will focus solely on the defence and has not been brought in as the new No.2.
As well as managing Brentford from 2002-04, Downes was Reading’s defensive coach when they surged to the 2006 Championship title, conceding only 32 goals in 46 games.
Downes has been working in an advisory role for League Two Gillingham since the start of November but is due to take up his new full-time post this week, in time to work with the side before Saturday’s crunch game against fellow-strugglers Wigan.
Meanwhile, the club’s owners are also keen on appointing a second specialist coach to work with the side’s striking unit.
Only Wigan have scored less than the Hammers’ 11 goals this term and former strikers Paolo di Canio and John Hartson have both been linked with the position.