OK, it’s not quite Dick Howser’s dismissal in 1980, but even by modern standards of crazy managerial turnover, Chelsea’s decision to sack Avram Grant today is notable. Following a 2nd place finish and nearly winning Wednesday’s Champions League final, the firing of Grant, while hardly unexpected, speaks volumes about a level of expectations at Stamford Bridge that seems absolutely paralyzing. Imagine, if you will, a manager with the benefit of unlimited financial resources who also had to contend a critical fan base, not to mention print/electronic media who thought he should’ve appeared more passionate. Sound like anyone you know, Willie?
Fresh off his star turn in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, The Guardian’s Russell Brand was penning Grant’s professional obituary as early as Friday :
How Avram Grant will be remembered seems unclear. Roman Abramovich was present for his side’s narrow defeat and typically you would imagine that a squad that came so close to success would be applauded and nurtured but I imagine in this case that the players will scatter around the globe and that Grant will quietly shuffle of into a den of bureaucracy – which will suit him all the better, he never looked happy on that touch line.
The incident that for me was emblematic of his reign came in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final when he attempted to retrieve a ball that had rolled toward the dug-out and was battered on to his arse by Steve Gerrard who was undertaking the same act of retrieval with considerably more gusto. It was a bit sad. He looked a bit like a mugged geriatric sat there all confused. The other folk on the Chelsea bench offered no chastisement of Gerrard and no comfort to Grant but just stared ahead and he was forced to do the same but you could see he was all shook up by the encounter and that his heart would’ve been racing.