Jose Mourinho may have cranked up the pressure on Avram Grant by suggesting he would like his old job back, but the current Chelsea manager said yesterday that all he wanted was peace with the "legacy of Jose". The famously non-combative Grant sounded ever more like John Lennon when he declared himself a "peaceful man".
With his usual immaculate timing, Mourinho thrust himself back into the national consciousness on Thursday with a press conference in Valencia, also revealing that he "felt nothing" for Grant, the man who emerged from the shadows of the Chelsea hierarchy to succeed him in September. With Chelsea facing Barnsley today in the FA Cup sixth round, Grant again found himself confronted by the ghost of Mourinho.
Doing his best to maintain his normal good humour, Grant said that he had no problem with his Chelsea predecessor. "You know what my job is, it's not thinking about what other people say," Grant said. "I fully respect him [Mourinho]. I don't fight with any managers. I'm not going to start now. The only fight I have is out on the pitch. When I need to fight, I will fight. I know how to fight.
"I've done it before in my life. But I am a peaceful man. I'm not naive. I know what I need to do. Some of you know better than me what happened before this season but you always talk about the past. I have respect for what Jose did at the club. The club brought me here to go a different way and that's what I have to concentrate on."
The Mourinho question is not likely to go away soon for Grant who, for the moment, appears to have alleviated the pressure from the Carling Cup final defeat to Tottenham with victories over West Ham and Olympiakos. Today there will not be quite the same clamour from his top players to play against a Barnsley team who have not won a game since they eliminated Liverpool at Anfield on 16 February.
Thankfully, Grant's responsibilities today do not include driving the team bus since he was unable to put a name to Barnsley's ground yesterday and needed a club apparatchik to come up with the correct answer, Oakwell.
Otherwise, Grant was confident that his scout Michael Emenalo had researched everything he needed to know about today's opponents. "Barnsley have lost only one game at home [they have lost two at home this season]," Grant said, "so it will be difficult because they've beaten Liverpool as well." Grant said that the Chelsea career of Andrei Shevchenko, who played in the reserves this week, was not over but he would have to accept his new position in the pecking order. "Big stars that are yesterday [sic], today are not such big stars.
"He was very good before he got injured. It was a bad [back] injury. First, I want him to feel good and recover. Then, maybe, you'll see him scoring big goals in the big games we still have.
"All my players have to accept they are part of a squad. It's part of my job to leave them out and part of their job [is] to accept it."Reuse content