Grant leaves Stamford Bridge a loser

YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

If you browsed Chelsea’s website yesterday you would’ve read the following statement: “Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Avram Grant has had his contract as manager terminated on Saturday.  This follows meetings over the previous two days.”  Unsurprisingly, the axe has fallen on the not so special one.  For many Chelsea fans this is a relief, for others, an injustice.

The man chosen to succeed José Mourinho was never qualified enough, intelligent enough (in a football sense) or charismatic enough to be a long-term option for the Blues.  Grant was devious in his pursuit for the top job and ended up digging his own grave.

Grant was appointed “Director of Football” by Chelsea owner and close friend, Roman Abramovich, at the start of last season.  He then took over from Mourinho in September, 2007, when the Portuguese left by mutual consent (meaning he was sacked).  Upon taking charge, Grant promised “attacking football” of a particularly attractive variety.

In truth, all he did was copy Mourinho’s style, and without an intimate knowledge of the methodology, tactical systems and technical components required to pull it off.  The former Israel national team coach did however manage to keep Chelsea in contention for all four trophies on offer, the most important of all being the UEFA Champions League, which he came within one penalty-kick of winning.  What a shame!

The 53 year old Israeli has managed Hapoel Petah Tikva, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and his national team with reasonable success.  However, were these credentials good enough to manage one of the biggest Club’s in English football?  Perhaps more importantly, an English manager with higher qualifications could’ve been given a go.

What about promoting ex-Chelsea player and assistant manager, Steve Clarke?  All of these hypotheticals are just that, hypothetical, when you have a “hands-on” Russian billionaire as your big boss.  Abramovich wanted Grant, he got him.  Now he doesn’t anymore, so he’s gone.

On the day Grant was sacked, Mourinho gave an exclusive interview with UK paper, The Observer, breaking the news that his old boss had bought him a Ferrari.  You read it right, Abramovich bought Mourinho a customised 612 Scaglietti, one of only 60 produced to celebrate Ferrari’s 60th anniversary.

Mourinho had told his boss during his management reign, that if he had to choose a car, the four-seater Ferrari would be it.  Mourinho claims he was given the gift after Chelsea lost to Tottenham in the Carling Cup Final.  What is most extraordinary is that the two men still keep in regular contact.  Who knows what to believe?

Predictably, Mourinho also hit-out at Grant.  The Observer’s headline read, “Sacked Grant dubbed a ‘loser’ by Mourinho.”  Chelsea’s most successful manager did not hold back.  He said, “After two titles per season for the last three years there were zero titles this season, which in my philosophy means a really bad season.  Maybe in the philosophy of a loser this was a great season, which I respect.”  When I read comments like that I can’t help but laugh, Mourinho has never been one to suppress his thoughts.

What’s glaringly obvious amongst all this drama is that football seems to be lost in translation.  Chelsea’s current mess is nothing short of disgraceful.  Who loses in all of this, not Grant, he gets around $10.7 million Australian dollars for 8 months work.  It’s the fans, the boys and girls, the mums and dads, the loyal and the new.

Countless hours have been spent attending matches, buying merchandise and for some, travelling long distances to share in the experience of top flight football.  It’s the game after-all which people pay to see, not a boardroom power struggle headed by a dictator.  John Terry wasn’t crying when he missed the penalty kick, which would’ve won Chelsea the UCL, because the Club had lost the prize money.  He was crying because his defining moment on the pitch passed him by, the moment which would’ve made him a hero.  Terry felt he let all of the Chelsea fans down.

Grant has to cop the blame, better managers who have won leagues have lost their jobs for one reason or another, and he’s won nothing.  Except a UCL runners-up medal which he threw into the crowd, where have I seen that done before?  Abramovich has spent so much money on this team, winning nothing was simply unacceptable.  Close was nice though.  Nice doesn’t win you titles.

The stakes are high, the egos large and the money unimaginable for most.  I think Abramovich realises he made a mistake letting Mourinho go, but with a strong list of candidates to fill the current vacancy, Guus Hiddink, Frank Rijkaard and Roberto Mancini to name a few, it won’t be long before Chelsea’s back on top.  There’s a lesson in all of this, money doesn’t buy happiness nor does it buy success in football.

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