Friday, April 18, 2008

Avram Grant At His Finest

It's no secret that the Prince of Darkness, Avram Grant, is not a pleasant man to talk to. He's a guy who wears all black all the time, and when Chelsea plays during the day, I'm surprised that he even comes out of the dark tunnel to manage. He has no personality whatsoever. None. Zero.

It's no coincidence that there's going to be a mass exodus of players from Chelsea during the summer, and that most of them will follow their former manager, the charismatic, articulate José Mourinho, to whichever club he takes charge of. Not only is Mourinho a masterful tactician, something that Grant certainly is not, he's a joy to play for. His presence attracts the media in hordes and takes the pressure off the players. Mourinho will stand up and answer questions and make jokes while doing so.

Grant, on the other hand? Well, take a look at the following interview from ESPNsoccernet's Richard Jolly after Chelsea's 1-0 victory at Everton yesterday:

A deserved win Avram?
Grant said: 'Yes.'

What particularly pleased you about the performance?
'I'm pleased.'

What in particular pleased you?
After an eight second delay: 'I don't know.'

Is it a relief to win here?

You seem lost for words by the performance. Are you more satisfied with the performance or the victory?

You seem distracted. Do you have a problem?
'No problem.'

Is there an issue?
'No. I'm ok. I have nothing to say.'

Do you have a message for the Chelsea fans?
'You represent the Chelsea fans?'

They must believe you are still in the title race, do you have a message for them?
'No message.'

Does this result mean you are back in it now?
'I don't know.'

How many steps have you climbed to undertake this press conference?
'I don't know.'

You seem less voluble than usual. Is it because of Sky TV moving the game to a Thursday?
'Maybe it's because of you. I don't know. I am ok.'

You are saying that you don't know if you are still in the title race?
'No.' Is it easier to say nothing Avram?
'I don't what to answer. It is a good question. I don't know what to answer.'

Is this because of Sky?
'No. Sky is ok. I enjoy watching them.'

Is it a protest against newspapers?
'No. Why?'

Why else would you come in and refuse to answer our questions?
'I answer every question.'

You are two points behind Manchester United and you don't know if you are still in the title race?

Have you told the players that you don't know if you are back in the title race?
'What I tell the players is something else. You want me to tell you what I say to the players?'

We just want you to answer the question really. Are you in the title race?
'I don't know.'

Would you not like to gain some positive publicity for the result rather than this bizarre silence?
'I'm sorry. You can write whatever you want and I can answer what I want.'

Do you feel under pressure to deliver a trophy. Is that the reason for the monosyllabic answers?

Are you upset? Do you feel you have been misrepresented?
'Maybe I have said because it is a bad season.'

Did Michael Essien faint?
'He had some problems, but he is ok.'

Michael Ballack?

What's his problem?
'Ask the doctor.'

He's not here Avram.
'Well call him then.'

Have you ever played the yes/no game Avram?

What an absolute disgrace!! This man is a joke. He's an embarrassment.

His team just won at Goodison Park, a tough place to play, and kept their slim title hopes alive. Their game against Manchester United next weekend will actually mean something now, and the Red Devils won't be able to officially clinch the title at Stamford Bridge.

You wouldn't know it by listening to this interview. Sure, the media have been putting pressure on Grant this season. What else does he expect, walking into the manager's position at one of England's most successful clubs in recent history without the proper qualifications? The media is doing their job. Writing stories and criticism is what they're paid to do, just like Avram Grant is paid to manage Chelsea FC, and hopefully to lead them to trophies.

Just because he hasn't held up his end of the bargain doesn't give him a right to give a little hissy-fit like he did to Richard Jolly. This interview makes Grant look like an ignorant, selfish baby.

In comparison, David Moyes, Everton's manager, was gracious and took the time to man up and talk about his team's defeat. It's not as if Everton has nothing to play for either; this is a team who has hit a rough patch recently and could miss out on UEFA Cup qualification if they keep failing to gain points. Moyes didn't whine and moan that his side lost.

Grant needs to grow up. It's looking increasingly likely that he won't be at Chelsea next year, at least not in the capacity of manager, and to be honest, he should appreciate and thank Roman Abramovich for giving him this opportunity to begin with. As I said, Grant doesn't have the credentials or club experience to be put in such a high-profile position in the first place, and interviews like this just make him look that much worse.

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