Grant appointment makes Chelsea no more than rich man’s play

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LeBron
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Grant appointment makes Chelsea no more than rich man’s play

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Avram Grant appointment makes Chelsea no more than rich man’s plaything

Avram Grant appointment makes Chelsea no more than rich man’s playthingMartin Samuel, Chief Football Correspondent
"If I wanted an easy job, I would have stayed at Porto – beautiful blue chair, the Champions League trophy, God, and after God, me"

Mourinho July 2004

As manager of Chelsea, Avram Grant has no pedigree. He does, however, have a chum. And as this gentleman also happens to own the wealthiest club in England from the last blade of grass to the washers on the hot taps at the training ground, this is all that matters.

September 20, 2007 is the day that Chelsea stopped being a football club and were reinvented as a rich man’s plaything.


Make one thing clear: there is nothing in Grant’s professional CV that qualifies him for a job as intricate and demanding as this. He has never managed in a leading European league, never managed a team outside Israel or beyond the most basic qualifying rounds of the Champions League or European Cup (he once reached the first round of the old tournament before being beaten by FC Bruges, and was embarrassingly thrown out at the second qualifying stage during his sole Champions League campaign for fielding a suspended player against FC Haka, of Finland).

He was impressively resilient as manager of Israel, drawing home and away with France, but his football was condemned as conservative and he has not coached at the finals stage of an international tournament.

Grant would not have ticked any of the boxes laid out by Peter Kenyon the last time Chelsea were in the market for a manager. When replacing Claudio Ranieri, the chief executive talked of sustained success and made it clear that extensive experience in Europe was a necessity. After missing out on Sven-Göran Eriksson, he went for a man who had just brought the Champions League title to FC Porto. This time, what little elimination process existed was considerably less exacting.

The bottom line is that Chelsea have gone for a mate of the owner, a member of his entourage, a chap who has had his ear and is widely presumed to have blown smoke in it and up some other places since being taken on as José Mourinho’s shadow in the summer.

What is also at an end is the Chelski myth. If a flag flies over Stamford Bridge this morning, it is not red, but nor is it blue. More than ever, this is now Roman Abramovich’s venture, and his alone. It is as good as impossible to find a single Chelsea supporter who would have backed his choice as manager, and probably not too many on his staff.

To understand Abramovich, it is important to acknowledge that the strongest cultural influence on his life is not his nationality but his faith. In the early days of the Roman invasion, when the owner was a figure of some mystery, it was pointed out to those seeking a handle on the new man that his Jewish heritage was felt more strongly than his Russian roots. It is this that he shares with his inner circle.

Abramovich plays along with the Chelski schtick, but it is not who he is.

Among his most senior advisers is Pini Zahavi, the Israeli-born agent – whose links to Chelsea were illustrated by his presence at the infamous meeting with Ashley Cole, despite not being the representative of the player – and it was Zahavi who introduced Abramovich to Grant.

Abramovich, like Zahavi, is a frequent visitor to Israel, has been present at national team matches and sighted near the dressing-room after matches. He is sponsor of the First Channel Cup, which brings together teams from Israel, Russia and Ukraine, pumping £4 million into the 2007 tournament at a time when Mourinho was denied funds in the transfer window.

Abramovich attended every match bar one and flew in Russian pop stars to provide entertainment at lavish parties. There is no doubt that these ties are strong and, with Abramovich as owner, Grant as manager and Zahavi a trusted confidant of the pair, Chelsea are not so much Russian these days as kosher. Through bonds formed in Israel, Grant was the man Abramovich wanted to work alongside Mourinho and he will find it hard to shake off the image of the dressing-room nark, even if he was in no way to blame for the friction that led to this sudden departure.

There have been suggestions that Mourinho had lost the dressing-room in recent weeks, but those rumours seem too conveniently placed and certainly the most important senior players remained staunchly loyal to their manager. Whatever is said publicly, it is hard to imagine that Grant will be a popular figure when players talk about the events of the past few days. Mourinho is an intensely charismatic man and managers with his strength of personality are the hardest to succeed.

They invariably operate with a handful of trusted lieutenants in the team, who are convinced by the intellect and strategies of the leader and it is difficult to believe that influential figures such as John Terry and Frank Lampard will be easily weaned off the cult of Mourinho. “When José came in, that was it,â€￾ Terry told me last season. “He was the one. He gets more out of players than any manager I have ever known. He has a way of making everybody want to play for him – even the guys that are not in the team.â€￾

Now does that sound like a player who will be anything less than suspicious of the new man and his motives?

A clever politician, though, Grant. As Israel coach he wanted to attend the 2004 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, but the host country did not recognise Israeli passport-holders. So he cut a deal with the Paris correspondent of Yedioth Ahronoth, the daily newspaper, who was known to have good contacts in North Africa. The journalist secured entry, Grant gave him an exclusive interview.

There is a difference, though, between smoothing a path through the relative backwater of Israeli football and pulling off a coup on this audacious scale. Good connections, good fortune and powerful friends in high places will be little help on Sunday at Old Trafford, or at the Mestalla in Valencia, where in two weeks’ time Grant must pick up the pieces of a Champions League campaign that has gone off at halfcock.

Real Madrid are the only team to switch managers midway through the season and win the competition, Vice-nte del Bosque, the youth-team coach, replacing John Toshack in November 1999 and lifting the trophy against Valencia in Paris the next May. Del Bosque, however, had been at the club since 1964 and won five league titles.

Grant, by contrast, is said to be hugely charming and a smart thinker, but with no reputation beyond Israel, except among friends. That has got him far. But for 90 minutes on Sunday, his wealthy gang will count for nothing. He will need to go at Manchester United with more than a good address book and a ready smile or Abramovich will be throwing his toys from the pram again. This time he will have nobody to blame but himself.

Thirty-one hours that ended an era at Stamford Bridge

Tuesday, 9.40pm José Mourinho spends two minutes in the dressing-room after the 1-1 draw with Rosenborg. He has an equally brief exchange with Roman Abramovich in the players’ lounge.

Wednesday, 2.30pm Mourinho is called to a meeting at Stamford Bridge with Abramovich, Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, and Eugene Tenenbaum, the director, to discuss Chelsea’s stuttering start to the season and a feeling that differences between manager and owner had become irreconcilable. Tenenbaum is understood to have articulated Abramovich’s frustrations over results, the team’s playing style and Mourinho’s public outbursts, with the Portuguese sarcastically responding by asking which manager in the world could do a better job. At the end of the meeting Mourinho’s departure is seen as inevitable, although nothing is resolved.

6.30pm Mourinho boards the team bus at Stamford Bridge with the bulk of his first-team squad for a trip to the screening of Blue Revolution, a film about Chelsea’s past three years. The Portuguese makes the unusual gesture of shaking all those players present by the hand.

6.45pm Mourinho meets Abramovich at the Vue cinema at Fulham Broadway, shaking his hand and greeting him with the words: “Hello, boss.â€￾

7pm As the film starts, Mourinho sends text messages to John Terry, Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho telling them he is leaving the club with immediate effect. None is at the cinema.

8.40pm Abramovich, Kenyon and Mourinho return to Stamford Bridge to continue their discussions and Mourinho leaves within an hour.

9.30pm Mourinho returns home and phones Frank Lampard to explain his reasons for leaving. He is believed to have said that he had been effectively dismissed.

10.45pm As news of Mourinho’s departure spreads, Bruce Buck, the chairman, and other directors and aides are called to an emergency board meeting at Stamford Bridge.

11pm Mourinho belatedly informs Jorge Mendes, his agent, who had been at the Champions League match between Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United.

Thursday, 1.45am Chelsea release a statement claiming that Mourinho has left the club by “mutual consentâ€￾.

3.30am The board meeting breaks up after deciding to appoint Avram Grant manager.

8.40am Mourinho arrives at the club’s Cobham training ground to say goodbye to the players.

11.30am Grant and Steve Clarke take charge of training under the watchful eye of Abramovich.

4.15pm Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with Mendes to finalise his payoff.

Words by Matt Hughes
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getborn
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Post by getborn »

a bit of a read but worth it, and for whats its worth i agree with most of it.
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Post by King Of East »

The only thing i agree with is the comments about the appointment of Avram Grant which i am not liking one bit at all! :(

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Post by 181 »

strappineastie wrote:The only thing i agree with is the comments about the appointment of Avram Grant which i am not liking one bit at all! :(
100% agree...pretty much a no name to manage one of the biggest clubs :oops:
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Post by LeBron »

It's going to be very interesting over the next few weeks
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Post by JUVE 11 »

Agreed, will be very interesting to see how the players take it. Apparently most of them loved working with Jose. A very big loss for the club !

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Post by diegom »

WHO???????

Lets just hope that United FIND their scoring prowess and Bang a few in against CHELSKI this week!
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Post by Inter_boy;) »

surely this will just be temporary ? a world class coach is needed. Perhaps Jose will come to Inter..?

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Post by MG&Son »

too bad we didnt ask you LFC8 :lol:
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Post by ForzaChievo »

strappineastie wrote:The only thing i agree with is the comments about the appointment of Avram Grant which i am not liking one bit at all! :(
It's good to be mates with Roman, as proven here.

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Post by King Of East »

north_side94 wrote:
strappineastie wrote:The only thing i agree with is the comments about the appointment of Avram Grant which i am not liking one bit at all! :(
It's good to be mates with Roman, as proven here.
Hmmm but if he doesn't get results then he will get the boot too. Surely a far better coach is on the cards. I am just praying that alot of the players don't decide to leave because of this stupid decision, at the end of the day it's the club that pays their wages & it's the club that they are playing for!

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Post by ForzaChievo »

strappineastie wrote:
north_side94 wrote:
strappineastie wrote:The only thing i agree with is the comments about the appointment of Avram Grant which i am not liking one bit at all! :(
It's good to be mates with Roman, as proven here.
Hmmm but if he doesn't get results then he will get the boot too. Surely a far better coach is on the cards. I am just praying that alot of the players don't decide to leave because of this stupid decision, at the end of the day it's the club that pays their wages & it's the club that they are playing for!
But Roman is invovled in everything at that club, including the transfer market. It was only a matter of time before Jose left, he couldn't buy who he wanted. But who Roman wanted, and you carn't manage that way.

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Post by Chelsea007 »

Oh well Chelsea is rooted for this season....only few months into this season and enough turmoil and Barossa Pearl to last 10yrs.....im sure we will see a few Chelsea stars on their way out once the transfer period re opens....

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Post by pires7 »

Chelsea007 wrote:Oh well Chelsea is rooted for this season....only few months into this season and enough turmoil and Barossa Pearl to last 10yrs.....im sure we will see a few Chelsea stars on their way out once the transfer period re opens....
Not when they are earning $250,000 AUD a week they wont be going anywhere, who can afford that wage bill?

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Post by LeBron »

Mighty Ger! wrote:too bad we didnt ask you LFC8 :lol:
What??
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Post by Missing Post Count »

LFC8 wrote:
Mighty Ger! wrote:too bad we didnt ask you LFC8 :lol:
What??
Since when do we have to be invited to give an opinion?

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Post by MG&Son »

Bodø Glimt wrote:
LFC8 wrote:
Mighty Ger! wrote:too bad we didnt ask you LFC8 :lol:
What??
Since when do we have to be invited to give an opinion?
chillout.
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Post by Missing Post Count »

Mighty Ger! wrote:chillout.
Like you said in the wild west, it takes a temperature of -273ºC for me to chill out :lol: :lol:

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Post by MG&Son »

haha :lol:
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Post by Judge Judy »

surely there will be an exodus if a new manager isn't appointed, who'd want to play under some bloke masquerading as a coach when he is but a puppet.
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Post by getborn »

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Post by zola »

luvin that sign get born
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Post by King Of East »

Yeah that sign is so true! I love Roman for what he has done with my beloved Chelsea but i am getting a little toeie about what has been going on lately!

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Post by Fred Goldstone »

A former team-mate of mine who works for Chelsea's scouting team says that Abramovic has called the 'star' players to his mansion one night this week to lay down the law to them - perform or be exiled to the football wilderness!

My mate reckons he will destroy the careers of anyone who fails to meet the challenge.

I believe him.
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Post by ozzie owl »

I wonder how many of the trendies who jumped on the bandwagon at Chelsea will be there next season if they have poor year and miss the Champions League?

Problem is the true Chelsea supporters might not want to the high prices.

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