Avram heads Hammers wish list

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Avram Grant has emerged as the leading candidate for the West Ham manager's job as new owners David Gold and David Sullivan look to take the club forwards.

Grant is understood to be top of the Hammers' wanted list to replace Gianfranco Zola, who was sacked last week after the club only just retained their Barclays Premier League status.

The Israeli, 55, appears to have called time on his eventful stay at Portsmouth after failing to get assurances over the south coast club's crippled finances.

Pompey administrator Andrew Andronikou seems resigned to the departure of the former Chelsea boss, who guided Pompey to the FA Cup final against all the odds.

Grant still has two years left to run on a deal at Fratton Park which may well have been invalidated anyway by non-payment of wages, while Portsmouth look ready to waive any compensation claim.

Confirmation of a formal approach, however, has yet to be forthcoming, but sources suggest the Israeli is set for a three-year deal worth £1.3million.

Grant headed the four on the Hammers' final shortlist, along with Ian Holloway and Dave Jones - both hoping for promotion to the top flight with Blackpool and Cardiff respectively via the play-off final - while Blackburn issued a hands-off warning over their boss Sam Allardyce.

Holloway dismissed the speculation himself as he focuses on Wembley, with Grant now apparently in the driving seat.

Whoever the Hammers board eventually appoints, the new manager is likely to want to rebuild a squad which only just escaped the drop.

Were that to indeed be Grant, who guided Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final, a £7million move for Everton striker Ayegbeni Yakubu would appear on the cards, as well as bids to bring in two Pompey players - Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jamie O'Hara, who was on loan from Tottenham.

Sullivan and Gold, though, intend to make a swift appointment, expected ahead of the World Cup. "Our efforts are focused on recruiting a high-calibre manager with the necessary experience to deliver good football and, most importantly, results," a joint statement read. "A shortlist of candidates has been identified and the appointment will be made with enough time to prepare for pre-season."

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