Friday, May 2, 2008

Avram Grant: Chelsea's Ultimate Winner?

Having just returned from Texas, I've been amiss in not tossing in two cents on the marvelous Chelsea-Liverpool second leg Champions League semifinal.

It's not the final I expected or wanted, but I have to say the lasting image for me aside from Frank Lampard's emotional tugging at his black armband is Avram Grant dropping to his knees upon the final whistle.

Grant has taken so many punches from the fans and media that he' s been begging for a kick. Ironically, it may be Grant who gets in the last boot should he manage to get Chelsea to lift the Champions League cup and the premiership championship. The latter will be most difficult given Manchester United's edge in goal differential. But how ironic would a Chelsea double be (treble if you count the Carling Cup)?

Whomever followed Jose Mourinho at Chelsea was doomed to fail, no doubt. Few could live up to that charisma and back-to-back Premiership titles are impressive enough. Perhaps that's why Roman Abramovich ultimately went with the familiar Grant, a low-profile man whose top-line resume achievement was guiding the Israel national team. He's been slammed for his player selection and in-game management, but it's difficult to argue with the results. Grant has gone where not even Mourinho could with Chelsea and he's 90 minutes away from securing Abramovich's ultimate goal.

Is it enough to keep his job? Doesn't truly matter at this point, John Terry's support not withstanding. This just might be Chelsea's last great stand, especially with the impending departure of Didier Drogba. And what of Terry, Wayne Bridge and a host of others? Might it be enough inspiration to unify this team for one last run at a major trophy? Grant might be the lasting figure.

Stay tuned, May 21 is around the corner.

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