Smiling Avram tells Israel of fierce UK press

By Simon Griver, March 28, 2008
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Just hours after beating one of ‘the big three’ for the first time, Chelsea manager Avram Grant took part in the second session of his Uefa PRO License course. But while he was required to dash for a night flight shortly after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge , he looked rested and was smiling as he arrived at Israel FA headquarters on Monday morning and spoke about his team’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal.

“I still think my substitutions against Spurs (which they drew 4-4) were better than those I made against Arsenal,” said Grant. “If the substitutions work and you win, you are a tactical genius, and if you lose you are useless. That’s football.”

Since taking over from Jose Mourinho in September, the Israeli boss has been much-maligned despite keeping the West London team on track for silverware, both domestically and in the Champions League. Speaking about his relationship with British journalists, he said: “I think most of them appreciate that I have something to offer professionally. It’s a press that sometimes doesn’t especially like foreigners.”

If not always appreciated in England, Grant praised the marvellous backing he gets from his compatriots. “I get between 40 to 50 letters each day from Israeli admirers. My secretary is amazed by it. My only regret is that I am unable to answer them.”

The next session of the Uefa PRO course will take place at Stamford Bridge on April 7 when Grant will lecture to his fellow Israeli coaches on preparing a team for a Champions League match. This will be a “real time” lecture as Chelsea play the second leg of their quarter-final against Fenerbahce the following day.

Chelsea have signed a scouting agreement with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Chief scout, Michael Emenalo, a former Maccabi TA defender who was appointed by Grant last October, has been working closely with Maccabi Managing Director Avi Nimni over the past month as Chelsea’s global scouting network is helping the Israeli team find new foreign players. The agreement was personally approved by both Grant and owner Roman Abramovich.

    Last updated: 9:42am, June 3 2008