Avram Grant appears to be losing friends fast at West Ham but his arid sense of humour has yet to desert him.
As the Hammers manager prepared for Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Birmingham, amid rumours that the club's owners had lost faith in him, he was asked if he had received a message from the boardroom.
'Lose by as many as you can,' he said. Then his shoulders shook and he started to laugh. 'No, no,' the Israeli added.
'The owners are doing everything they think will help the team succeed. Coming into a semi-final, they are excited like everybody else, maybe more.'
Grant's record in semi-finals in England is played three, won three - although his sides have gone on to lose the finals - and perhaps West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold are waiting to see if he can make it four out of four before wielding the axe.
'Sometimes a semi-final is more exciting than the final,' said Grant. 'For West Ham to be in the final, their first at Wembley in 30 years, I would be very happy. I think everybody around would be.'
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Despite this, the owners appear to be running short of patience and have already started the search for a replacement, with Martin O'Neill and Sam Allardyce high on the wish list.
Grant knows he can do little but plough on and consider the advice of Sir Alex Ferguson, who, 20 years ago this month, was seemingly on his way out as Manchester United manager after three years without a trophy.
Legend has it Mark Robins scored the goal which saved Fergie, against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. United went on to win the trophy and have not stopped winning since.
Grant said: 'I've spoken to Alex from time to time and he gave me good advice. I'm using it all the time.
'Alex is great because he was in the position where he was almost on the way out and then everyone knows what he did after that.'
Taking West Ham to their first Wembley final since 1981 might not save Grant's job in the long term, but it would be sweet for him.
Beating Birmingham, the club sold by Sullivan and Gold before they bought the Hammers, would boost his boardroom standing, too.
'I can only deal with things I can control,' said Grant. 'In two years I will be 40 years in football and I have never left a club in the middle of the year.'
Grant wants an advantage from tonight's game at Upton Park to take into the second leg at St Andrew's and Alex McLeish expects a spirited display from the Hammers.
'We hope we can put West Ham out of sight in the first game but I suspect that will be easier said than done,' said the Birmingham manager.
'We have a strategy to take a favourable result back. We have to believe we can win both legs.
'This is a fresh challenge for the players and another test of their mental toughness. Winning games like this shows you have it in you to be a big-occasion player.'
Or a big-occasion manager.
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