West Ham did rise to the task and emphatically defeat an abject Wigan side, keeping their manager Avram Grant in his job for now. That said, they remain bottom of the table.
For now, Grant survives and even earned congratulations from one of the owners of the club, though he declined to say whether it was David Sullivan or David Gold. But 'they were happy' he said.
Swiss on a roll: Valon Behrami put West Ham 1-0 up
Had this game ended in defeat, thepair would have surely been re-thinking their decision to appoint him.'I never think about this and myself,' said Grant.
'I cannot because I'm in a job wherealways there are rumours like this. I need to concentrate on my job anddo my job and that's what I have always done. It was a big win and aconvincing victory.'
Not that he has been enamoured withthe 'save-our-season' theme. 'It's a marketing thing,' he said, with arare, wry smile. 'I always say to the owners: 'You can do what you wantin marketing as long as it doesn't come in my area.' Maybe because ofthem the fans were very good today.'
They were, however, more excited inserenading Paolo Di Canio here watching from an executive box thanGrant. That is as much as the Italian will contribute to the team fornow, if Grant has anything to do with it.
Wally Downes has joined as his newassistant and the manager confirmed that Di Canio will not be part ofthe staff, even though he wants to add more specific coaches to histeam 'for the physical, tactical, technical and mental side,' addedGrant. So Di Canio to be employed for the mental side? Even the usuallydour Grant broke into a beaming grin at that suggestion.
Happy Hammers: Valon Behrami (left) celebrates after giving West Ham the lead
MATCH FACTS WEST HAM (4-4-2): Green; Jacobsen (Reid 50min), Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon; Berrera, Behrami, Parker(Kovac 83), Stanislas; Piquionne (Cole 77), Obinna. Subs (not used): Boffin, Boa Morte, McCarthy, Hines.
WIGAN (4-2-3-1): Al-Habsi; Stam, Gohouri, Caldwell, Figueroa; Thomas (Watson 68), Diame; N'Zogbia, Jordi(Moses 61), Cleverley; Di Santo (Boselli 61). Subs (not used): Pollitt, McArthur, McManaman, Mustoe.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
As for Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, there was little to glean from this game, other than what not to do.
'We don't want to blame anyone but ourselves because we conceded three very cheap goals.'
Indeed, both sides were woeful forthe opening 30 minutes, with scarcely a chance created. Yet thebreakthrough came in the 33rd minute, courtesy of Wigan's poordefending.
West Ham's Lars Jacobsen chipped adecent ball into the box but Steven Caldwell and Steve Gohouri shouldhave cleared it, rather than allow Valon Behrami to bundle his waythrough and score from close range.
A goal to the good, West Ham were a different proposition and played with confidence and incision.They extended their lead when the excellent Frederic Piquionne cutinside and released Victor Obinna, who sprinted past Hendry Thomas andunleashed a far-post strike past Ali Al Habsi in the 56th minute. UptonPark erupted in relief but they should have known better.
On their way: Behrami sends West Ham fans barmy with the opener
Within four minutes, Danny Gabbidonhad felled Tom Cleverley in the box and substitute Mauro Boselli, onlyon the pitch for three minutes, took the penalty.
On a freezing afternoon, perhaps itwas predictable, after an hour of hanging around, that his shot bouncedlamely off goalkeeper Robert Green.
His miss meant Wigan's hopesdisintegrated, which was confirmed in the 75th minute when Scott Parkerburst through midfield, exchanged passes with Obinna and finished fromsix yards.
Victor victorious: Victor Obinna (third left) hits a decisive second
'He represents the goodold-fashioned character of the English game,' said Grant of Parker, whoplayed despite the lingering affects of a virus.
This being West Ham, there was timefor a wobble. Cleverley curled a ball into the top corner and, hadreferee Mark Halsey not incorrectly disallowed Gohouri's strike foroffside in injury time, there would have been palpitations aplenty.
As it was, Grant and West Ham prevailed and their season was saved for now.
Where's Wally? He is at Upton Park and primed to save West Ham.Kirkland relishing fresh start after leaving Wigan for Leicester loan dealWEST HAM UNITED FC