Avram Grant has underlined his determination to succeed where Jose Mourinho failed and make a belated success of Andrei Shevchenko's Stamford Bridge career – as long as the striker adopts the right attitude to the task. "We are not babysitters of players," asserted Grant yesterday.
The Ukrainian is likely to be on the bench yet again today as Chelsea host a resurgent Manchester City, with Grant preferring the contrasting talents of Didier Drogba, Joe Cole and Florent Malouda in a three-pronged attack. But the £30m misfit still has a future in west London according to the Chelsea manager.
Grant refused to confirm reports that British sprinter Darren Campbell has been approached to provide Shevchenko with extra sprint training but he is willing to take whatever measures necessary to facilitate the striker's overdue return to form.
"Look, Andrei Shevchenko was a very good player and is still a very good player. For us it is a challenge to improve all the squad, personally and as a team," Grant said.
"I know that when a good player is not at his best it doesn't mean he has finished his career. If their attitude is good, then they can make a comeback and that is possible with Andrei.
"He is a great player with a great attitude. He was not at his best in the last one month, so this is the reason that he doesn't play. It doesn't say anything about the future. I prefer now only to say he was not in his best from the beginning of the year. There are many reasons for this. And when you ask is it mental or physical sometimes it's both. But we are talking about professional players. They need to handle everything. We are not babysitters of the players. My way is to try to help them if they help themselves."
As for the appointment of Campbell, it remains a strong possibility. "We are looking at ways, many ways, to improve our team – on the tactical side and the mental side and sport side. When we have news to tell you we will tell you!"
Campbell should not have to work too hard with the winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is blessed with natural pace, but the former Manchester City player has problems of his own after being left out of the squad to face Schalke 04 in the Champions League on Wednesday. Wright-Phillips, who began the season so promisingly and appeared to have finally won over Mourinho, is said to be frustrated at the latest turn of events, which have led him to be linked with a possible transfer back to City. Grant, however, expects the winger, like Shevchenko, to stay.
He said: "At the moment I have no intention to let any player go out of our squad. I want to keep all of our players and if Sven [Goran Eriksson] wants something he will call me, believe me. Shaun is a professional. He wants to play of course, he wants to be in the squad. But he's ready for the next games."
Wright-Phillips will be desperate to play at least some part in today's match against a Manchester City side that have been impressively revitalised by Eriksson, a scenario which has not come as a surprise to Grant, who has always been a strong ally of the Swede.
"We all have short memories," he said. " We always like to remember what's happened in the end. But if you remember when Sven took England he made a very very good job in a very short time. He's doing it now with Manchester City. He's a great person and a great coach."Reuse content