Keegan hails input of Chelsea coach

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The Independent Football

Avram Grant yesterday received one the greatest compliments Kevin Keegan can bestow when the Newcastle United manager likened Grant's tenure at Chelsea this season to that of Bob Paisley's at Liverpool after Bill Shankly had left Anfield. Keegan was also dismissive of the increasing emphasis on a manager's personality, saying of Grant: "He is not a guy who comes in and struts around the place. He is not John Wayne. But he knows football and he has done a great job. That is what he should be judged on."

Keegan's revitalised Newcastle host Chelsea at St James' Park on Monday and have the chance to kill off or possibly curtail Chelsea's league title hopes, depending on Manchester United's result against West Ham today. Keegan has no desire to help United or Chelsea but he expressed sympathy for Grant as a public figure, especially when compared to his predecessor at Stamford Bridge, flamboyant Jose Mourinho.

"I feel like everyone else in the game, that he's had a pretty rough ride," Keegan said of Grant. "He went in – and you've got to remember they'd played four or five games, not particularly well under Mourinho for whatever reasons – and his record is incredible.

"If you're saying he's the sort of personality you want to put in front of the cameras then I think he has a good personality but he is not Mourinho.

"I think where Avram Grant has been very, very clever is that he has let the ship sail along. That is what Bob Paisley did after Bill Shankly at Liverpool. He has not made major changes. Why? Because I would say he has looked at it and thought it only needs cosmetic surgery. Now that is good management, but it might not excite people."