(photo credit: )
The special one is gone. Enter the normal one.
Chelsea introduced Avraham Grant as its new manager on Friday, three days after the shock departure of Jose Mourinho.
Grant is the opposite of the chatty, media-friendly and outspoken Mourinho, who introduced himself in 2004 as the "Special One." He proved that with two Premier League titles and an FA Cup - becoming Chelsea's most successful manager in his three years in charge.
But he did not deliver the Champions League title desired by Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich.
His departure came after his tense relations with Abramovich and club management broke down completely.
Grant, a former Israel national team coach, was offered the job soon after Mourinho left the club by "mutual consent" on Wednesday night - a decision that stunned the club's fans.
When asked if he was a "Special One" like Mourinho, Grant replied: "I am a normal person. I have my own philosophy." Grant's first game in charge is as challenging as it gets - against defending champion Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Grant said he believed he would be successful and would win over fans by playing a more attractive style of soccer.
"I fully respect what Jose did in the past," Grant said. "I try to do what I need to do. Everything has come by surprise. Football is also entertainment. We need to win games, try for all the trophies. The way to the winning is also important. I don't say it was not done in the past, but I think only about the future. I'm sure that we can do it."
Grant sat largely stone-faced during a packed 45-minute news conference at Stamford Bridge, occasionally breaking into a smile, while Chelsea officials defended his appointment.
"We don't believe it's a backward step, we believe it's a step forward," Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck told a packed news conference at Stamford Bridge. "We believe that we are going forward. We have a lot of optimism."
The club said the players supported the new coach, despite media reports that several stars were thinking of leaving.
Grant believes he will get the best out of Chelsea's collection of star players.
"If I thought I could not handle it, I would not take the job," he said. "He [Mourinho] made success here and I want to follow that and make success of my own." The club said Grant was in for the long haul at Chelsea, but that no contract has been signed. Grant has never coached a club outside of Israel and has only been involved in coaching at six Champions League games. He was brought to Chelsea over the summer by Abramovich as director of football.
Buck agreed Mourinho's track record was superior to Grant's.
"However. it's very important in a relationship between a board and a manager and a manager and an owner, that there's mutual confidence, agreement on strategy, vision and approach," Buck said.
"We've spent a lot of time with Avraham and we believe that our vision, our ambition is in accord with him." Kenyon said there was no single catalyst to Mourinho's departure and that the Portuguese coach had not lost the confidence of the players. But Kenyon said the last nine months had been difficult at the club.
"We reached the point over the last few days that it was right for the club, and for him, to mutually agree to part company," he said.
Meanwhile, a new twist to the Grant story emerged on Saturday when it was reported in the English press that the Israeli could be prevented from coaching in the English Premier League because he does not hold the requisite license.
Premier League and UEFA rules state that all managers in the English top flight must complete 240 hours of study to obtain a UEFA Pro license.
The BBC said the Premier League had written to Chelsea to remind them of the rules, although as a new manager Grant will be given a 12 week period to deal with the issue.
Other managers, including Middlesborough's Gareth Southgate have been given special permission to continue in their jobs despite not holding the qualification. The fact that Grant holds an Israeli coaching license and has vast experience coaching in his own country is likely to work in his favor.
Jeremy Last contributed to this report.
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