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Why Chelsea are singing the blues

If Avram Grant wants to stay at the Chelsea helm he needs to bring home some silverware this season. But are the Londoners really capable of winning the Premiership or Champions' League?

Tony Cascarino, 18 Mar 2008

Following Chelsea’s loss to Barnsley in the FA Cup, Avram Grant has admitted that he needs to win either the Premiership or the Champions’ League this season to save his job, but there’s a huge question mark over his ability to bring either of those trophies to Stamford Bridge. When you look at the League Cup Final defeat to Spurs, I think Grant made decisions that cost Chelsea the game.

If you’re going to play Nicolas Anelka on the left wing, and leave out Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole, I think you’re making things difficult for yourself. I believe that, with Jose Mourinho as manager, Chelsea would not have lost to either Spurs or Barnsley. Without wishing to be a cheerleader for Mourinho, major managerial decisions are taken in difficult moments, and so far Grant has failed to answer the questions that have been asked of him.

That’s not to say that Grant can’t learn from his mistakes, because Chelsea did bounce back from the League Cup Final loss and win 4-0 at West Ham. But he’s going to have learn very quickly. Chelsea have got 20-25 players who are top quality, and with the amount of money the chairman has spent, you’ve got to be winning trophies. If Grant doesn’t do that, I think it’ll cost him his job.

With regard to Mourinho’s comment that he’s looking to “kill” Chelsea next season, he’s always had a fantastically big ego, but he’s always delivered. I think he knew there were certain people at the club who were knifing him in the back, which made his job impossible. In the end, even though the team were successful, I think he was happy to leave behind the internal strife.

Interestingly, Mourinho also said that he’s still on good terms with Roman Abramovich, and I don’t think that’s where the problem lay. I have been in the company of both Mourinho and Abramovich, and they got along fine. Personally, I don’t think Grant and his team would be at the club now if they were behind Mourinho.

Abramovich probably now regrets his decision to let Mourinho go. I don’t think things have been right behind the scenes at Chelsea for some time, and I suspect there’ll be huge changes at the club in the summer, regardless of whether they’re successful this season or not.

Elsewhere over the past fortnight, Liam Brady was confirmed as an assistant to Giovanni Trapattoni in the new Irish set-up. Continuity is an important factor here, and Liam’s relationship with Trappatoni will allow him to work as a buffer between him and the players.

Also, he will know Marco Tardelli very well from his Juventus days. Liam will help the players out, and I think that’s needed, because some things will get misunderstood due to the language barrier. Overall, I think Liam will play a very important role and it’s great to see him involved.

Carlos Queiroz caused considerable controversy with his outburst against referee Martin Atkinson following Man Utd’s FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth, and his remarks attracted even more attention when they received Alex Ferguson’s endorsement. On occasions like this, there are times when I have to bite my tongue, due to the amount of teams that come away from Old Trafford – and the home grounds of the other big sides – furious about a decision.

It’s probably a case of sour grapes, as Man Utd should have won the game. They dominated, had lots of chances and were very frustrated at the manner in which they were sucker-punched. Additionally, it was a golden opportunity for United to win the Cup, and I think Fergie was very angry about that.

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