Grant questions Cole charge

First published in West Ham

WEST Ham manager Avram Grant today criticised the Football Association's decision to charge Carlton Cole with improper conduct.

Striker Cole has admitted the charge and requested a personal hearing after the FA took action over comments he posted on Twitter during the England v Ghana game at Wembley.

The Hammers striker wrote: "Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha. The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George's flag!"

Cole, whose mother hails from Sierra Leone and his father from Nigeria, later deleted the message and said it had been a joke.

Grant insisted he had no problem with Cole's tweeting and he suggested the FA should have more important things to concentrate on.

"Today there is Twitter, Facebook. Facebook destroyed one government in the Middle East so I don't know what will happen with Twitter," Grant said.

"It is funny sometimes, especially how Carlton is doing it. He is doing it in a funny way. If people like it they can look at it, if they don't like it they don't have to look at it.

"I don't think we need to take it too far. Of course (his apology) should be the end of it. To charge Carlton Cole with racism, I think it was a joke.

"The FA was a little bit in a fight spirit over the last week. They were looking at Twitter, Facebook and what you said to the referee. This is not the main thing."

Grant will be serving the second of a two-match touchline ban against Aston Villa tomorrow following comments he made about referee Mike Jones.

There is no precedent for allegedly racist comments expressed via Twitter but Grant does not expect Cole to be banned over the issue.

The most likely outcome for Cole is a warning and a fine. The former Liverpool striker Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 in January after re-tweeting an image of the referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt.

West Ham need their England striker firing on all cylinders in what is shaping up to be a nail-biting climax to the Premier League campaign.

Cole has not been deterred from Twitter. Only today he posted: "Tell u what, training was the best ive seen it in a long while! Wow The ball was fizzing about,transfer that to the game and we will be good!"

But West Ham may be without star midfielder Scott Parker, who would be Grant's pick for PFA player of the year but is struggling with an Achilles problem.

"What he has done this season has been unbelievable. I have never seen a player do more for a team than Scott Parker has done for this club," said Grant.

"When you choose a player you need to choose an example as well, how to behave in difficult times.

"We had difficult times in the first half of the season and he was there for us, he was there for the young players, he was there for the others.

"He showed high quality, scored goals, blocked shots and he was good for the national team in the last game. I think he is the player of the season."

The Hammers tackle Aston Villa at Upton Park tomorrow, knowing a victory could take them out of the relegation zone and to within two points of their struggling opponents.

Grant insisted last week's bust-up between Mark Noble and Robert Green at Bolton proves West Ham have enough fighting spirit to stay in the Premier League.

"What you saw from the players in the last game was a lot of passion from the players, a lot of commitment," said Grant.

"We are not in an orchestra. This is football, emotion is good. I don't want everything to be quiet.

"There is a belief. We were last place in the table and many points behind. Now we are in a better position."

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