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Grant plans signings with Abramovich and Arnesen


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Defiant Grant says his future lies at Chelsea

· Manager planning transfer targets with Abramovich

· Insists he has worked wonders to be in title race

David Hytner

Thursday April 17, 2008

The Guardian


Avram Grant insists he will still be Chelsea's manager next season and is even planning his summer transfers. Photograph by Steven Paston/Action Images.

Gordon Brown is not synonymous with sporting predictions but when Avram Grant claimed yesterday that nobody, "including the prime minister of England, could have seen us in the position we are in [now] when I received the team" he had got his point across, and with uncharacteristic hyperbole too.

The under-fire Chelsea manager was in fighting mood before tonight's crucial Premier League fixture at Everton and he did not stop with an outspoken defence of his record. He felt sufficiently confident to declare that he had started talks with the owner, Roman Abramovich, and scouting director, Frank Arnesen, about transfer targets and he suggested that the summer would give him the opportunity to shape the team in the desired image.

Although Grant signed Nicolas Anelka in January and the Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic, who has yet to feature, the team and the playing style remain largely those of his predecessor, Jose Mourinho. Abramovich has demanded greater fantasy and Grant believes he will be entrusted with the close-season alterations. "We are already speaking about this all the time, planning for the short- and the long-term," he said. "It's not about how many [new signings] but which ones you can bring. We want to play a certain type of football and if they can help us with that we will want to take them.

"The advantage we had three years ago was that the other big clubs didn't have the money, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona, so we could show the money and get the player. Now it has changed. For example, I don't think Barcelona would give you [Lionel] Messi even if you showed them big money."

At present only Joe Cole consistently quickens the pulse at Chelsea. The club will be in the market for players who are capable of moments of magic and there will be spaces freed up by sales. Didier Drogba is expected to be the highest-profile departure and his fellow strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Claudio Pizarro do not feature in any long-term plans.

Florent Malouda, the winger signed for £13.5m from Lyon last summer, is another the club would like to move on. He left the French champions to play for Mourinho, not Grant, and his performances have been hugely disappointing. Frank Lampard, meanwhile, must attempt to broker a new contract at the end of the season. His existing deal runs out in the summer of 2009. "I think players will want to join Chelsea," said Grant. "We are a big club, we want to be bigger. Only one team can take the title or the Champions League so you think all the good players will just want to join that one club?"

The level of hostility from Chelsea's fans towards Grant was illustrated yesterday by Pat Nevin, the club's former winger. He was as horrified as they were at the concession of a late equaliser to Wigan Athletic on Monday, which left Grant's side five points behind the leaders, Manchester United, with four games to play. "I write for the Chelsea website every Tuesday and usually ask a little question at the end," said Nevin, who would not be "devastated or all that surprised if Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard turns up as the Chelsea manager" next season. "My emails went into meltdown because the only way you can contact the club is through my email address. I've got over 1,000 emails sitting there and they are not answers to the question."

Grant bristled with defiance. "Every week there is another coach connected to Chelsea; it was also true last year," he said. "There is no news." He also laid down the law to the defender Tal Ben-Haim, who reportedly said he "knew nothing good would come with Grant as Chelsea coach". Ben-Haim may be on his way. "If a player was wrong, we need to deal with it in our way, my way," said Grant.

Grant took over in September with the team sixth in the league, five points behind the leaders, Arsenal. They had also drawn their opening Champions League game against Rosenborg. "Realistically, we did not have a chance from day one that I was here," said Grant. "There was always a team above us with more points. [but] we have made good developments in the Champions League and the Premier League and now we want to finish it. Anyone who is reasonable will say that we have done a very good job. I don't expect 100% of people to think the same, though."

Six set to depart

Didier Drogba

Bought July 2004, Cost £24m

Finally set on the move he has considered since the day he signed

Florent Malouda

July 2007, £13.5m

Upset by Jose Mourinho's departure and has not lived up to expectations

Andriy Shevchenko

May 2006, £30m

Peripheral even under Avram Grant and Milan are keen to re-sign him

Claudio Pizarro

June 2007, Free

Few games since joining from Bayern Munich and not in Grant's plans

Tal Ben-Haim

June 2007, Free

Has not played for two months and reportedly criticised the coach

Steve Sidwell

May 2007, Free Another free signing from last summer who has made no impact

Horrific if true -though Grant knew Arnesen before he came to Portsmouth, one of the reasons he greased himself into SW 6, so could be some mileage in the article.

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What do you mean next season? We already have!!!! Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrepresenting Chelsea!

aye this is true, But I meant with the full regalia, Knee length black boots, white jodpurs, White shirt with bow tie, Red tunic, top hat and a whip...........Having thought about it, if that was Samantha Janus in that get up then I might even drop my boycott and attend myself :tiphat:

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