Grant pulls no punches as he fights for his job


Last updated at 19:48 29 February 2008

He barely glanced at the

pass notes prepared by

the club's spin doctor,

fixed his inquisitors with

an icy glare and gave a

performance so polished he

could yet have an alternative

career in politics.

Make no mistake, Avram Grant

came out fighting on Friday.

Fighting to save his job, fighting

claims that Roman Abramovich is

picking the team and fighting fires

following Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat

against Tottenham.

Chelsea TV nearly chairlifted him

out of the studio and even Jeremy

Paxman would have been proud of

this animated display. This was box

office, not the low rent sideshow

Chelsea fans have known since Grant

replaced you-know-who.

'Roman Abramovich has never told

me one player that he needs to play

and he never told me to pick the team

this way,' began the Chelsea manager.

Then there was no stopping him.

'I'm in charge. My professionalism

needs to be respected. I speak with

Roman Abramovich a lot and no one

was happy with what happened on

Sunday. If we're beaten by West Ham,

just wait a little bit with the knife.'

It was a remarkable outpouring of

emotion ahead of today's game at

Upton Park. His cheeks billowed

when he confirmed coach Henk ten

Cate's clash with John Terry, he

frowned discussing the Final and

shrugged off the prospect of Frank

Rijkaard replacing him.

'We lost one game and now this is

wrong and that is wrong,' said Grant.

'The spirit in the team is good and we

are sorry about what happened with

Tottenham but we did a good job in

the previous five months.

'I like what Alan Shearer said about

the Terry incident. If you're a player,

you know things like that will happen.

It was a discussion and you move on.

No team in the world is without fighting.

Sometimes it happens. A minute

later, everything was OK. They shook

hands and hugged.'

Grant painted a picture of free love

at the training ground. Imagine

Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard

taking it in turns to practise freekicks.

'After you, Lamps' —'No, after you!'

'You can say the game was bad, you

can say my decisions were wrong, but

don't go further,' added Grant. 'The

relationship between the squad is fantastic.

Just because we lost a game,

this is not good and that is not good.

'I take responsibility for everything:

for my staff and for my selections.

Every game we lose at Chelsea is a big

game but the players are fantastic

and they behave nicely.

'Give respect to the players for what

we have achieved. We were the only

team to get to the Final from the big

four and we're still in the other competitions.

We've done a fantastic job.'

Although Grant has a four-year

contract, the only guarantee is that he

will be manager until the end of the


Sportsmail revealed on Friday that

Abramovich has conceded he made

mistakes following Jose Mourinho's

exit and is considering changes.

Grant is under threat. Not winning a

trophy will be failure and the shaft of

light offered by Rijkaard has pricked

Abramovich's ears.

For now, Grant has the backing of

the board. 'A very good player

(Maradona) came to visit me recently

and he told me a story,' he said.

'He said the owner (at Napoli) came

up to him and said: “You're too heavy,

you're overweight”. So Maradona said

“No, I'm the same weight as before —

I just haven't scored recently”. That is

the same as us last weekend. The only

difference is that we didn't win.'

It was a world-class performance by

the manager. Now they need one from

the team

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