Avram Grant last night roared "Bring it on Rafa" as Chelsea prepared to face Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the third time in four years. He did nothing of the sort, actually, but you knew that. Grant doesn't do soundbites. If he were running for the President of the United States he would have his strategists jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in despair. "Please vote for me. Why? I do not want to say."
Grant views a microphone the way most people would an angry hornet. Something to be avoided. To his credit he never does and, occasionally, there is a nugget in the dull sludge of words. Last night his most extravagant comment came after he was asked if he thought Chelsea could win the Champions League. The much-criticised manager said: "When I became manager we had just drawn at home against Rosenborg and in the Premier League we had five teams ahead of us. I said then 'I believe we can do big things this year'. Now we are close."
Rafael Benitez's Liverpool, who twice put out Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, bar the way again. Will it be third time lucky? "I have always wanted to know the future but I do not know," said Grant, reverting to form.
When asked about Didier Drogba's lack of goals in the two legs he answered: "Drogba is part of the team and the team won. He is one of the best strikers in the world and he helped the team." Grant added: "In the beginning they said we can't score without him, now they say we can't score with him."
And what of the game itself? "The most important thing is the result." Indeed it was and managers live and die by results, not quotes. Being a personality may help a manager get a job, but only winning will help him hold on to it.
Grant concluded with a rallying cry, "Tell Fergie we're coming to get you, at home and abroad." OK, OK, he did not, of course. One thing he did say, though, was even more unexpected. "I am optimistic by nature." Now that is a surprise.Reuse content