Monday, May 26, 2008

Taken for Grant-ed

As Chelsea start the search for their next ex-manager, Avram Grant must be wondering what he had to do to keep the job.

The Israeli took Chelsea to within three points of piping Manchester United to the Premier League title, despite having looked out of it months earlier. He would have also beat the Reds to the club's first European Cup, had it not been for John Terry's slip and his games to wins ratio was as good as any top manager. Yet this was obviously not good enough for Roman Abramovich.

At any other club this would have been judged as a 'decent to good' season. However, Chelsea is not 'any other club'. Claudio Ranieri was Mr Abramovich's first victim, despite taking his side, from perennial chasers of fourth place, to second place in the Premier League and a Champions' League Semi-Final, beating Arsenal en-route. This wasn't good enough, and he was sacked.

His replacement, a certain Mr Jose Mourinho, brought the League Cup (twice), the Premier League title (twice) an F.A. Cup and an appearance in two Champions' League Semi Finals, losing one on penalties, in his three and a bit years at the Stamford Bridge club. Despite Mourinho's success he was criticised for his unattractive style of play. He was dumped, for Avram Grant.

Had Terry not slipped, would Grant have still been in a job? Was Grant, despite the four year contract, only ever meant to be a stop-gap for a bigger name? All that is debatable. What is clear, though, is that whoever is next in Mr Abramovich's firing line will have to win everything to have a chance of making his stay at Stamford Bridge anything other than a short one.

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