Hammers chief admits Grant pleasure

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One brief meeting was all it took for Avram Grant to persuade West Ham co-chairman David Gold he was the right man to replace Gianfranco Zola as manager.

Grant, who left financially-beleaguered Portsmouth last month, beat off competition from a strong shortlist to land the manager's job at Upton Park last week.

Mark Hughes, Slaven Bilic, and Sam Allardyce were all linked with the position, but Gold says he was convinced the former Chelsea boss was the right man for the job.

Gold said: " When you meet with the person you have to have that camaraderie or that instant chemistry that makes you think 'I can work with this person' and that was the case with Avram. He was head and shoulders above everyone else."

He added: "He was superb in his company, I felt comfortable with him. We talked football and a three-hour meeting with him just flew by and I knew that was our man."

The Israeli had a tour of the club's Chadwell Heath training ground earlier this week after having his work permit rubber-stamped by the Home Office on Tuesday.

He will spend the next three weeks preparing for the start of pre-season and scouring the globe for potential transfer targets to add to a squad that has already been strengthened by the arrival of former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger.

Grant said: "I can't wait for July because I like to work on the pitch. The next two or three weeks is important because we can sign players, take care of the staff and get everything in place for the start of training."

West Ham confirmed they have severed all ties with Zola after the two sides agreed a financial settlement on his departure. Gold backed the Italian to bounce back from his sacking by making a return to top-flight management.

"I'm delighted we've managed to come to an agreement with Franco," Gold said.

"I really do wish him the very best of luck. He's one of the nicest people in football that I have worked with and I'm sure he's got a future in management at the top level."

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