If Avram Grant was a biscuit he’d be a McVitie’s digestive. Fit for purpose but the sort of biscuit that wouldn’t be seen dead in any of London’s finest eateries. Workman-like, efficient, yet easily crushed to make ma’s apple crumble.. ….you get the drift.
Despite a creditable showing of eight wins, one draw and two defeats since February’s horror film and Carling Cup debacle, the suspicion remains that Avram Grant isn’t up to the job. That’s not to say he’s a bad manager but more that he isn’t a top, top manager. There’s a crucial difference…….
Whereas Ancelotti, Capello, Lippi, Wenger, Rijkaard, Mancini, Schuster et al view a football match like a giant chess board and manoeuvre their players accordingly, Grant doesn’t have any plan B that any Chelsea fan couldn’t spot from ten yards.
Yes, the Arsenal come back was down to Avram’s substitutions, but the addition of an extra striker when losing a match is hardly worth a £multi-million contract, signed and sealed for four years. For that sort of money, Chelsea fans want the sort of precision tactical ploys that made Jose Mourinho a genius.
The type of tactics that saw Cristiano Ronaldo become as a effective as a ball boy whenever he played Chelsea – Jose who knew what runs Ronaldo made, what his weaknesses were and exploited them mercilessly. Last May he did the same for every other Utd player and marked them all out of the match. Then waited for Drogba to pounce and win us the FA Cup.
Jose’s gone and we need to get over it. But is Grant the man to replace him?
The whispers in the Matthew Harding Upper are that he’s not. Yes, Grant has done a great job in steadying the ship and there’s surely not one Chelsea fan alive who isn’t grateful for him steering us into shouting distance of a stab at a league title and a Champions League Final. To that end, Grant’s done fantastically well.
Indeed, there is no one behind the scenes at CFCnet who has booed Grant or chanted ‘Jose Mourinho’ when things haven’t worked smoothly. We’ve tried to support Grant fully and will continue to do so whilst he’s our manager. But there is a sneaking suspicion at CFCnet towers that if Grant had an alter ego, he’d be Alan Curbishley.
Whereas Ancelotti will guide Kaka all over the San Siro using his notes as a map and his arms to gesture, one can only suspect that Avram Grant ‘s finest tactical ploy is to stare glumly into space and watch the team struggle manfully before hauling players of the calibre of Joe Cole off. Tellingly, whereas Jose’s substitutions made sense, Grant’s often don’t and hardly inspire us as to the quality of his management.
One example? Essien at right back and then right wing when we’ve two unused international wingers in the squad. Heaven knows what two Champions League winning right backs (Beletti and Ferreira) made of it. (Surely Essien’s lack of form this season has been the ridiculous situations he’s found himself in).
A recent trip to Israel by a CFCnet member had said person enquire as to what the Israeli football public thought of Avram Grant. To a man they all thought he was capable, but to a man they all said he was very fortunate to get the Chelsea job and wasn’t of sufficient standard in the long term. And this is his own countrymen speaking. One bar owner said that Grant would be a good manager of Helsingborg, Zurich Grasshoppers, Austria Vienna and, at a stretch, Besiktas but certainly not Chelsea. He viewed Avram’s appointment like a Madrista would view Gary Megson taking over at the Bernabeu. From what we’ve seen, who can argue with that assessment?
In short, Grant’s done a solid job and given the circumstances of his arrival one could almost say a great job. But even if he were to win either the Premier League or Champions League, the suspicion remains that the victories came inspite of Grant, not because of him. A sort of footballing equivalent of English rugby’s Brian Ashton…….good guy, decent manager, but if the Club are to really become the world’s prevailing force by 2014 (copyright Peter Kenyon), then surely just a stand-in before this summers arrival of a world class manager who has won at every level of the game and has a CV to match.