Hot favourite to replace Grant out of the running
Players told to stop feeling sorry for themselves

FORMER England manager Steve McClaren last night insisted he is not the man to mastermind West Ham’s bid for an immediate return to the Premier League.

McClaren was yesterday installed as the clear favourite to replace Avram Grant, who was sacked on Sunday after defeat at Wigan doomed the Hammers to relegation.

But the ex-Middlesbrough and Twente boss, who was sacked by German side Wolfsburg earlier this season, ruled himself out of the running after a day of frenzied speculation.

“It is very flattering to be linked with a club of West Ham’s size and historic stature, also one that has tremendous fans,” said McClaren (inset). “However, at this moment in time I do not wish to be considered for the position. But I wish everybody at West Ham all the very best for the future.”

McClaren’s snub leaves former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton, ex-Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce and current QPR chief Neil Warnock as the most fancied candidates for a job that West Ham co-owner David Gold expects to attract a flurry of interest.

Gold has called for time and patience as he prepares to make what he insists will be one of the most important managerial appointments in the club’s 116-year history.

But with an immediate return to the top flight needed in order to stave off fears over their debt pile and the move to the Olympic Stadium, Gold underlined the importance of getting the right man.

“The sooner the better because we have an enormous amount of work to do, but we mustn’t be rushed,” said Gold of the timescale.

“This will be a very, very important appointment. We’re choosing a manager good enough to get us out of this division and capable of continuing once we’ve achieved that. It’s important we have time for the CVs to come into us. I’m sure many, many managers will see the job as challenging and exciting and it’s important we pick the right person.

“We’re also prepared for the most exciting venture in the history of the club in the sense that we’ll be moving to a new stadium, which is something we’ve never done.”

Gold added that while a period of mourning was natural, the club had to look forward. “We’re entitled to grieve for a couple of days or maybe a couple of weeks, but sooner or later we have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and talk about promotion,” he said. “We’ve got to do everything in our power to get back into the Premier League as soon as possible.”

Hughton is desperate for a return to management and told City A.M. last month he would consider a job in the Championship, having been out of work for six months. Like Hughton, Allardyce has been on the market since December, when he was sacked by Blackburn.

Warnock, meanwhile, faces an uncertain future at Loftus Road, despite leading them into the top flight this season.

Pros: Superb organiser and shrewd operator in the transfer market.
Cons: Has not managed outside the top flight since 2001.

Pros: Took Newcastle up having lost star players. Worked with high-profile owner.
Cons: Newcastle aside, no experience of being a No1. Not a big name.

Pros: Proven track record with seven career promotions. Outstanding motivator
Cons: Direct style of play not in keeping with club’s traditions.