Chelsea boss Grant believes in the power of thought and the importance of style

Last updated at 11:33 07 December 2007

When Avram Grant first entered the Chelsea dressing room as manager he could have been forgiven for feeling a little starstruck.

The stellar cast headed by John Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard could put even the most experienced new boss on edge.

But having already mixed with some of the highest-paid sportsmen in world, the Israeli has quickly made himself at home with a 14-game unbeaten run.

Grant has studied first hand how Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong and Michael Johnson became kings of their realms.

The methods used to make them basketball, cycling and track legends were noted and Chelsea's manager has borrowed the best bits.

Grant may have been forced to give up a career as a goalscoring midfielder because of a car crash when he was 17, but he has made the most of his time in coaching since starting as a teenager.

He said: "I have followed football and other sports at the highest level. I went to many training sessions and talked to all the biggest coaches and players.

"I have my opinions but I took the best things from everybody. I have followed football all my life and I love it, but you can learn a lot from other sports.

"One of my friends was the publicity agent for Magic Johnson and from 1988 for 15 years I didn't miss any of the NBA finals. I was in the dressing room before and after the games and at half-time. I wanted to learn the psychology behind the teams."

If Arsene Wenger is known as 'the professor' perhaps Grant, who has taken courses at Harvard University, could become 'the analyst'.

There are already signs he wants to get inside the heads of his players - frequently naming his teams quite late on game days to keep them on their toes and employing a squad rotation system they were not used to.

Although the 52-year-old is not much of a shouter, he is not afraid to raise the volume and did so at half-time during last week's 1-0 win against West Ham.

"I have told the players that I believe very much in the power of thought," he said. "We need to develop how they are thinking during and after games, in good and bad moments.

"Sometimes you need to raise your voice, but for 80 or 90 per cent of the time I don't do that. We needed that then because in the first half we didn't play well. It was difficult and for me it was very important to see the character and the patience of the team."

Part of his brief has been to change the style of the team and there has been some success.

Routs against Manchester City in October and Rosenborg last week showed a goal-hungry approach which was often restricted under Jose Mourinho.

However, for tomorrow's game against Sunderland, Grant's main scoring threat, Didier Drogba, could be out. His knee problem may require surgery but Chelsea will have a clearer picture of how to treat it within the next 24 hours.

Grant's other injured players - Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Florent Malouda, Ricardo Carvalho - - are also unlikely to be risked in the Stamford Bridge game but the team's philosophy will remain the same.

The manager said: "If you want to be a top club you have to win and play attacking football.

"It brings more points and the supporters like it. You need a balance in defence but the style of the team is very important.

"We will go to games with the attitude that we want to play good football and I tell the players we are going to a show.

"I try to think one step ahead to see where the game is going. It has changed in the last 10 years. The most important thing is the style of the team."

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