Chris V Martin
Chris Hughton could make a quick return to football – with West Ham United.
But Martin Jol, the man he assisted at Tottenham, will be his major rival for the post – if the Hammers lose patience with Avram Grant.
The two close friends could go head-to-head for the job, as Hughton would be unlikely to agree to become Jol’s No 2 after such a successful stint as Newcastle chief.
Grant is now the bookies’ favourite to be the next Premier League manager to bite the dust after Hughton’s sacking this week – and we revealed a fortnight ago that the Hammers are actively looking into alternatives. We can also reveal that Grant is aware of the ‘discreet’ approaches made to potential successors, but has put up with the situation because he knows he needs results.
Former Ajax coach Jol is available, knows the Premier League from his time at Tottenham and lives on the doorstep – three factors that have made the Hammers hierarchy keen on him.
The Hammers’ ‘think tank’ are already lining up targets for next month’s transfer window and Jol would want a big say in those matters before accepting the challenge.
But Hughton, 52 yesterday, is an East London boy from Stratford and he had a two-year spell as a player with West Ham in the early 1990s and despite his long association with Spurs has a feeling for his local club.
Hughton may have lost his job at Newcastle – but the work he did at St James’ Park and the dignified way he did it means that he will not be out of work very long.
And if he does take over at Upton Park one of his first jobs will be to try to sign Joey Barton from his previous club.
He would also take goalkeeping coach Paul Barron, whose sacking also upset the Newcastle players.
Grant last night insisted he should be given time to turn around West Ham’s dismal season after a crushing 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City.
The Hammers will be condemned to the certainty of being bottom at Christmas if Wolves beat Birmingham today and Grant’s job is under increasing pressure.
But he said: “I have been speaking to the owners about new players in January and we would like to strengthen two or three positions – but it is not all about January. If we can win two of our next three games things will look different.”