The jury is certainly out on Avram. I have been a backer thus far, but I must admit that some of his decisions have left me scratching my head in bemusement.
Let's start with the Newcastle game. Now I can't criticise him for going with three up top because I was suggesting something similar before kick off. We desperately needed to win the game and, as I also said,, one goal was never going to be enough to buy three points. Of course, we are back to the old problem of Parker and Noble together in centre midfield, with neither contributing goals. Obinna has loads of promise but panics when he has sight of goal and Dyer, Boa and Barerra would not qualify for the adjective prolific would they? He hasn't played yet, but we are missing Hitzlespurger! So it was perfectly logical to bring in extra fire power, and with Cole netting from a Piquionne cross, it is hard to say Grant was wrong. The decision to go with Behrami seemed odd but, with Dyer unavailable what options were available? Could you pick Barerra in a three man midfield? That would be suicide! So it came down to Boa then. Boa or Behrami? Hobson's choice!
The mistakes came in game play, however. Once ahead, we surrendered the initiative and 4-3-3 became 4-5-1. Where was Grant at this point? Moving to 4-4-2 was simple enough, with Obinna told to play as a conventional left sided midfielder and Behrami told to stay wide. With Piquionne and Cole up top, we would have had much more chance of testing Newcastle at the back - and had they been tested, they would have wilted. But we dropped deeper and deeper and as good as invited them to first equalise and then score a second. Whatever was said at half time had no effect, unless we count making things worse!
But the strangest decision came with the "injury" to Upson, or should we say sit down strike? We were already struggling in the air so, with the loss of Upson, the logical replacement was Ben Haim. The Israeli had played well at Wolves at left back and is an experienced centre back. But Grant went with Ilunga instead. Why? He preferred Ben Haim the week before so what changed his mind? Inevitably, the winning goal came from a cross from our left, with Ilunga in no man's land, and a header. Surely leaving Gabbidon at left back and playing the taller Ben Haim in the middle would have made this less likely? So why did Grant make this perverse call? I would love to hear his explanation.
That was the latest in a string of odd calls. Why bring on Cole in the last 15 minutes when you need a goal? Why bring on Stanislas in the last minute at Old Trafford when you are three goals behind? Why start that game with Spector? Why pick Reid at right back at Villa?
To be fair, Grant doesn't make the same mistake twice in a row, let alone twenty times in a row like Zola. But twenty different mistakes are as bad as the same mistake made twenty times if it costs us points. I know it is easy to be critical when you don't have the responsibility but in each of the decisions identified above, both myself and my son were asking, "Why?" when the judgement calls were made by Grant.
Flawed judgement is disastrous in football management because the players start to lose faith in the man making the wrong calls. Soon, Grant is going to test Sullivan's patience and I don't fancy his chances of talking his way out of a corner once he has backed himself into it!