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Coach of the Year: Avraham Grant
JEREMY LAST
12/31/2007
He may not have the charisma of Mourinho but Grant has taken a club in turmoil and turned it into a confident, exciting team.
Avram Who? That was the immediate reaction of most soccer fans in England and around the world after it was announced in September that the former Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Israel coach was to take the reigns at Chelsea FC, one of the richest and most popular soccer clubs in the world. Avraham Grant had actually been working at Chelsea since the summer in the position of Director of Football, but had stayed out of the limelight. Now the torch was being shone directly at the Israeli and he initially found it hard to impress. The pressure on Grant was enormous and his lack of a strong command of the English language made it difficult for most soccer pundits to imagine he would last more than a few weeks in the job. His first game in charge was Manchester United away - as difficult as it gets. Although Chelsea battled hard, the Blues were well beaten, 2-0. However, that was just the kickstart Grant needed. Over the next weeks he slowly began to become accepted in English soccer. He may not have had the charisma of Mourinho but Grant took a club in turmoil and turned it into a confident, exciting team. Soon Chelsea was playing with style, easily beating its opponents the way it had done in the 2005 championship winning season. While the introduction of ex-Ajax coach Henk Ten Cate was clearly an important influence, Grant is in overall control. On Saturday Chelsea moved to within six points of Arsenal at the top of the table. If Grant manages to win the league it will be nothing but a masterstroke. Even if he doesn't, the way he has handled himself under such scrutiny in London makes him the Israeli coach of the year.
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