West Ham United’s season-long flirtation with relegation turned into a waltz with humiliation, as they threw away a two-goal lead against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium, to lose 3-2 and secure their demotion to the NPower Championship next season.
A first-half double from Demba Ba, had given Hammers supporters hope of a great escape, but when Charles N’Zogbia’s second goal of the game – a Connor Sammon goal sandwiched inbetween – deep into second-half stoppage time, the dismal race that has been the 2010/11 Premier League season for the Irons was well and truly run.
And within minutes of the final whistle, which were met by chaotic scenes from supporters of both sides, the clubs manager, Avram Grant, was informed by chairman David Sullivan, in the players tunnel no less, that his services at the club would no longer be required.
Grant has struggled at West Ham ever since his arrival, and won just seven of the 37 league matches of which he was in charge. His sacking comes just 11 months into a four-year deal having joined last summer despite leading Portsmouth to relegation from the Premier League.
Kevin Keen, the first-team coach, will take charge of the side for the last game of the season against Sunderland at Upton Park next Sunday, as the club’s board draw up a list of potential candidates who they believe can lead the club to an immediate return.
Top of that list is the QPR manager Neil Warnock, whose future at Loftus Road is not believed to be as secure as it should be despite his leadership having been an integral part in Rangers winning the Championship title this season, with Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea and Roma manager being strongly linked with Warnock’s present position. A secondary option may prove to be the former Newcastle United boss Chris Hughton.