14 jan 2008

Tidigare publicerad på Vital Chelsea


Grant - the slight differences

For those that do not really read what I write I seem to have a strong anti-Grant reputation. It is not totally undeserved, as I have had (and have) serious doubts about his competence, but it is not the whole truth either. (But he is fun to pick on)

I will not go into why I have a hard time with Grant as a person. As a manager I am still mainly undecided and I am impatiently waiting for him to show me more.

He has showed that he is not totally out of depth as I once believed. His man-management is quite good and he has now hired a player that will test that ability to the utmost. He is also very acute and smart in the hiring of staff.

He has had major injury problems but the team has handled them very well. Which is also a sign of Chelsea having a very good and deep squad at the moment.

In total I have a better appreciation for Grant today. He still says things in his press conferences that he is the only one seeing on the pitch, but that is probably the first thing a manager learns to do. Lie to the press, or the press will eat you alive. The problem that it is also lying to the fans. I also have questions for him that need to be straightened out. And I do consider him a below average match coach, though the last two games have been OK in i e substitutions. The managers that always have impressed me the most are the good match coaches that can think on their feet and change a game.

Grant is a different manager than José Mourinho in just about every comparative detail. With José there was no doubt who was in charge. With Grant there is maybe not doubt, but we do wonder who is the voice in the locker room, behind the tactics, on the training ground etc. As we wonder about his relationship with Roman. Not being helped by Grant`s own admission that "he only picks the team". Hence I think we must look at Grant as a management team with Steve Clarke and Henk ten Cate, not just a manager. Not a bad thing as three people usually can do a better job than just one. It is just different from what we are used to with ego-managers in the PL.

One of the things I think they have done well is to basically keep the way Chelsea are playing as it used to be. With some slight differences. That is the smart thing as the current players were recruited for that kind of game 2/ because the players know it and 3/ because it works. A totally new way to play would have wreaked havoc on the team and our performances. We have ground out some valueable results without showing anything of attractive, attacking, positive football. That is why we still are in the race.

The slight difference is also more different to last season than to our first premiership winning season under José. I like this difference to how we did play, forced to, towards the end of last season.

It is not a major difference. But things have to start somewhere and this is in my eyes what the Grant management team has done.

Chelsea do not lift the ball up towards the attack as much, and they do not play back to the goalkeeper nearly as much today.

If it is because the Drog has been injured and no replacement can tie down a long ball like him in the world? I do not know, but I want to think it is a change of philosophy.

Playing back. If it is due to JT (the biggest "offender" in this) also has been injured most of the season I do not know. I just hope that it is part of the philosophy not to lift long balls up to the attack from Petr Cech who for a goalie has great feet. I do see it as a mangerial directive.

Slight changes, but they are starting to show more and more by every game going by.

Compared to last year we are again slowly coming back to be a team that play our way up the pitch. Like it.

We are now getting injured players back. While losing four to the Africa Cup. Ballack has been very good and we have hardly missed Lampard (sorry Emily!). Especially after 8 months out. He has better tempo now and has taken on a big responsibility for the team. His mobility has always been great, the one that covers the greatest distance all the time in the team during a game. He has shown off his freekick abilities and is, together with Alex, a threat on corners.

The ever underestimated Shaun Wright-Phillips has found, been given, a new place as free roaming midfielder behind the target man and he loves it. It makes him get great use of his incessant running, his tenacitity and ball skills. He is so much better utilised in that position than as a winger I think. It gives Chelsea another game to use depending on opposition and available players. I really like that move by team Grant. Meanwhile Joe Cole has been more stationary on the right than usual, something that seems to agree with him too.

Alex have kept the defence together, whether playing with JT, Riccy or Ben Haim. The wing backs are changed virtually for any game as they give different qualities while being very good all four of them this season.

I do think Grant is good with most of the players. I do not think Drogba cares a bit about that, but then Drogba has a self-confidence that kind of puts him apart from others. Maybe we might lose him in the Summer, though I am not as sure as everyone else. The ego clash between Drogba and Anelka might become great fun or great detriment to the team, we just have to see about that. Not that any one of them lacks anything in the ego department though.

I still fervently believe that Chelsea are good enough team to win the Champion`s League. We will need a bit of luck. We are still competing in every competition though it is early in the second half of the season. Thanks to or despite off Grant? The league I still think Man U looks a bit better squad wise than us, but as long as we come ahead of Woolwich I can be happy.

If Grant brings me trohphies, rather triumphs I will appreciate it and him. I will probably never like him as a person despite. I have higher standards and he is hardly doing anything that stands out.

The thing that bothers me is the accept it all or nothing. With Grant I do see it as a team effort with Grant the instigator. With a manager as Mourinho it is to obvious that it is a one-man performance. Which makes it easier to point out the virtues of the person, but it is in no way a better way to go about. Only the results matter.

And again, Avram Grant is the luckiest person on earth. Because he is the Chelsea manager - and there can be no better job out there


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