Manager on Monday

Avram Grant has one message and one message alone going into a massive week - 'Thank you' to the fans.

The manager was frustrated his team were denied a superb away win at the death on Saturday especially because it denied the travelling claret and blue army what they deserved. They travelled back to London with a point from a 2-2 draw but it was so nearly much, much more - with only a late harsh Frederic Piquionne dismissal leading to an unlikely late Marouane Fellaini equaliser.

It was all a far cry from the last trip to Merseyside when the Hammers were humbled 3-0 by Liverpool two months ago. "At Anfield in November, our performance was really, really poor," said Grant. "We didn't do anything and the fans, who had travelled a long way showed their emotions, which was not wrong.

"But on Saturday they returned to Liverpool and backed the team and I'm very pleased about that. Some clubs have fans who only get behind their team when they're winning but the West Ham supporters are there for us all the time. The spirit of our fans affects the team and it shows out on the pitch

"Since our game against Fulham on Boxing Day the percentage of points per game has increased and that is due to our supporters. The fans' behaviour lifts the spirit of my players, they're really great and they deserve many good things.

"On Saturday, I didn't hear the fans asking for a wave because I was concentrating so I will wave back to them now."

As the manager looked back in detail to the way the weekend game had panned out and the fact leads were twice lost - Jon Spector's early goal was cancelled out by Dinyar Bilyaletdinov - he acknowledged that the disappointment was still lingering.

"It was frustrating because we played well and deserved more than one point. When you concede a goal in stoppage time you can never be happy but I have a team of which I can be proud - they were focused and showed a lot of commitment.

"We have played many games like this but we were more efficient in attack and we defended better even though they got two goals. The difference was that we took a point - and we could even have taken three - whereas we haven't done that in the other games.

"There have been many games where we've been left unhappy because we've been better than other teams and deserved points but have still lost. That's the rule of football - if you lose you don't take points."

So, to the week ahead. Let alone an Olympic Stadium decision or a Carling Cup semi-final decider at Birmingham City on Wednesday, it promises to be a busy one with the club stepping up efforts to bring in a new recruit or two and injured players like Thomas Hitzlsperger and Manu da Costa really pushing on in their bid to play a part in the run-in.

The manager is rightly only focusing on what he can affect. "I treat every match as my first game and my last game. My vision for West Ham is very clear and, at the end of the day, I want to put the club in a good position. I'm trying to create as much stability for the players as I can because everyone needs stability in whatever job they do.

"Football's never been a normal business. When I was a supporter I was crazy about my team. I'd watch them in the pouring rain and sometimes when I didn't have any money I'd still use what I had left to buy a ticket.

"After I started coaching I realised that the team will always be more important than anything else and if you give all your effort to the team, then the team will succeed and you will get it back. I'm here to serve the team.

"Wednesday represents a good chance to get to Wembley. It would be a nice feeling to get there and we have a small advantage but it will be a tough game because it would be a big achievement for Birmingham, too."