Starting Eleven's weekly tour around the football blogosphere concentrates primarily on sacked Chelsea manager Avram Grant. Grant got the boot over the weekend, less than a week after the Blues dropped the Champions League final in owner Roman Abramovich's backyard of Moscow to Manchester United.
Grant was an odd choice from Day 1 to replace Jose Mourinho. Chelsea went from a dynamic, winning manager--one who had the Champions League pedigree Abramovich wanted so desperately--to Grant, by all accounts a nice man, but one who had difficulty making proactive game-day decisions and primarily suffered, well, because he wasn't Jose Mourinho.
Grant, however, did take Chelsea further than Mourinho did. He got within a penalty kick of winning the European championship, and fell a game short of winning the Premier League. Hmm, I guess I'm making Chelsea's point in those two statements; Grant didn't have enough to put Chelsea over the top. Grant was doomed to fail, as is any manager whose predecessor was successful and beloved. Chelsea's next move is critical; there won't be an Avram Grant to blame this time around if Frank Rijkaard or Roberto Mancini or Marcello Lippi, or whomever is 10 points out by Christmas, and out of the Champions League in the first knockout round. It will fall on Peter Kenyon and Bruce Buck, and it will fall hard. The pedigree has been established; it's yours to uphold.
Soccernews has an excellent analysis of the Grant situation, pointing out the absurdity of Buck and Kenyon's remarks about Chelsea's season:"For Buck and Kenyon and Abramovich, best friends with Grant, to say the season was disappointing is an insult to nearly every football fan in the world. How most clubs would crave such a disappointing season! Ridiculous!"Footyblog, meanwhile, buys into the argument and says Grant was sacked after a "poorly performing season." I'll let that speak for itself.
True Blue Football Crazy looks at the possible replacements for Grant. Gotta love the smiling picture of Mourinho at the top.
Netherlands World Cup Blog looks at the two Dutch candidates for the Chelsea seat in Rijkaard and Guus Hiddink. Hiddink apparently has had a meeting with Abramovich and is prepared to leave a new contract with Russia on the table.
CFC.net issues a mea culpa toward Mr. Grant. After some reflecting, apologies are in order for some initial harsh analysis. Grant took a glamorous job, one that none of use would refuse, suffered the barbs of the fans, yet slowly won a number of them back as Chelsea crept back into the title race and earned its way into the Champions League final. Pity Chelsea didn't win the thing; would have been interesting whether we'd be having this discussion today.
CaughtOffside looks at the issue from Grant's point of view, and reports that the ex-Chelsea manager feels "completely betrayed" by his friend Abramovich.
OK, now away from Grant...
The Daily Mirror and a bunch of other places are reporting that Mourinho becomes the manager at Inter Milan this week--today perhaps. Reports also have it that Mourinho wants Frank Lampard to join him. Could Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho be far behind? Mourinho, upon leaving F.C. Porto to join Chelsea, brought with him a gaggle of Portuguese talent, including Carvalho, Paolo Ferreira and Maniche. History does tend to repeat itself...
Portugoal says it's a done deal with Inter; they're jumping the gun however. BTW, Deco is apparently on Mourinho's shopping list--yes another former F.C. Porto star.
CaughtOffside says Mourinho's line of thinking aligns with Abramovich and Co.: Almost winning the Carling Cup, Premiership and Champions League isn't good enough. Thinking it's good enough equates you with a loser.
SoccerMamak, among other places, reports that Mourinho sent Chelsea star Michael Essien a text message over the weekend confirming that he will sign at Inter--and that he thinks Essien is a special one too! Tampering anyone? Wondering if Jose has an iPhone?
OK, now away from Mourinho...
MLS Rumors takes a couple of different looks at what's going at Columbus Crew stadium; apparently everything from raucous, streamer-throwing fans, to racism and hooliganism. The Boston Globe looks at the streamer issue as well.
Talking to the Doll reports Benfica has a new coach, former Valencia boss Quique Flores.
101 Great Goals has more on the Chelsea situation--and, well, just more on everything. It's a must-stop.