Grant is game for holy day

By Simon Griver, April 18, 2008

Avram Grant’s father has defended his son over the clash between Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg coinciding with Holocaust Day.

The Israeli manager looks set to come in for fierce criticism back home as he is expected to be in the dugout for the Stamford Bridge’s club most important match of the season on April 30.

The game will not be televised live in Israel as the date is considered inappropriate to engage in leisure and entertainment activities.

But Meir Granat, a Holocaust survivor, has no problems with his son going to work on the Wednesday. “Avram has always respected the memory of the Holocaust” he said. “I have no problem with him coaching his team on Holocaust Day. On the contrary, there could be no better response to Nazism and antisemitism than for a Jew to lead his team through to the Champions League final.”

Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim has reportedly criticised Grant after playing just six matches since the turn of the year. He said: “Jose Mourinho is the reason I came to Chelsea and if I knew Avram Grant was going to be the coach I would have signed for another club.

“The fact is, while Jose was the coach, I played most of the games and people who know me know that I would not have come here to be a reserve. I knew nothing good would come for me with Grant as Chelsea coach.”

Before the club’s two midweek games, Grant, who was again target of antisemitic abuse in the home match against Wigan on Monday, was praised by the Chelsea board over the job he has performed since taking over from Mourinho. Chelsea chairman Bruce Bruck admits the club are “unbelievably happy” with the 52-year-old.

Speaking at a fans forum, the American said: “The board and Roman (Abramovich) did not expect that we would be sitting here today as semi-finalists in the Champions League and in contention of winning the Premier League. Right now Avram’s results are very good.”

Malaysia has agreed to lift a travel ban on Israelis to allow Grant and Ben Haim into the country for Chelsea’s mini-Asian tour in July.

Last updated: 3:06pm, March 2 2009