Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Is Avram Grant good enough for Chelsea?

Chelsea manager Avram Grant

After losing to Spurs in the League Cup Final, the quadruple dream is over for Chelsea. Who cares? The treble is still on! And recently there are problems surrounding their Israeli coach- Avram Grant, who was surprisingly chosen to succeed Jose Mourinho last September. Many pundits suggested that Grant isn't a suitable man to lead Chelsea towards success. Some people even said that he looks like a butcher rather than a football manager!

Can he be more successful than Jose Mourinho? The short, brutal answer is, 'No.' Mourinho was adored by the Chelsea fans (and, it was clear, most if not all of the Blues' players). He was always going to be a hard act to follow, whoever took over. In the first place, the owner of the club Roman Abramovich's dismissal of Jose Mourinho without a good reason could be a costly mistake to the club. The fans continued to chant Mourinho's name at Chelsea matches, suggesting that Grant had not yet won their hearts.

In addition, rumours are spreading that many of Chelsea's key player could leave the club this summer if Grant remains at the club. The newspaper adds helpfully that relations between Grant and his coaches, Dutchman Henk Ten Cate and long-serving Scot Steve Clarke, are "uncomfortable."Apparently their Chelsea futures will be determined by the appointment of the new manager, who could be another Dutchman, with both Guus Hiddink (a friend of Abramovich) and Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard (Ten Cate's boss at Barca) identified as possible successors. It is clear that people at Chelsea are showing their unwillingness to play under Grant.

In fact, his record at the club may be acceptable, just 3 defeats in 36 matches in charge at Chelsea. But they will be slightly disturbed that the three matches Chelsea have lost under Grant have been 3 very important and big matches- a cup final and Premier League games against their title challengers(Arsenal & Man U). They may be wondering whether their manager lacks the ability to produce results in big matches. Unlike Mourinho, who had won 3 cup finals & an unbeaten record against Arsenal in his 3+ years reign at the club.

After All, it will be interesting to see whether he can produce results when Chelsea's season, which is far from over, takes them into the latter stage of the Champions League and the FA Cup. A memorable treble may become realistic? Or if they get things wrongly, they could end the season with nothing? We will see when Grant and his squad are attempting to prepare for two crucial cup ties this week: the return leg against Greek champions Olympiacos in the last 16 of the Champions League, then the FA Cup quarter-final against Barnsley.