Comment: Grant is destined to become a quirky footnote in English soccer history

Avraham Grant became the first Israeli manager to lead a team at the famous Wembley stadium in an English cup final on Sunday. It must have been a proud moment for the Chelsea boss, not least because his father, a Holocaust survivor, was in the crowd to witness his moment. Up until Sunday's League Cup final, the Israeli manager appeared to have done a reasonable job of taking over from Jose Mourinho. The hostile English press, who once labelled the Israeli as "Avram who?" were even calling him "the new special one." Speculation in the media suggested that if Grant could emulate Mourinho, by securing the League Cup trophy as his first silverware as Chelsea manager, his position at Stamford Bridge would be secure. From almost every perspective, Spurs' 2-1 win over their West London rivals was an unmitigated disaster for the man from Petah Tikva. Grant got every single decision wrong. Grant's original team selection was poor, Joe Cole and Michael Ballack have been Chelsea's best players of late and they started on the bench. Ballack's replacement was Frank Lampard, who was anonymous during the 120 minutes. Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba were paired up front together and failed to strike up any understanding at all against a resolute Spurs backline. Juande Ramos, Grant's opposite number, made an inspired tactical move on the hour mark, replacing defender Pascal Chimbonda with midfielder Tom Huddlestone. In retrospect, this was the turning point of the final and it only served to highlight Grant's failings. Grant failed to change the course of the game. Probably his most puzzling decision was taking off Michael Essien two minutes before the end of normal time. The Ghanaian is one of the best midfielders in the world, and one of the fittest, and had he been on the pitch he could have made a difference during the extra 30 minutes. Grant's authority was also undermined in the period before extra time. Captain John Terry and assistant Steve Clarke gave the team talk before the additional 30 minutes of play and this has called into question who really runs the team. In his defence, Grant has not had it easy. In recent months he was shorn of key players due to injury and the Africa Cup of Nations, almost all the missing players came back at the same time, leaving Grant with numerous selection dilemmas. Grant can still succeed. Chelsea continues to battle on three fronts. In particular they are still in the FA Cup and the Champions League, two competitions which could save the Israeli's job. However, the overriding impression after Sunday's final is that Grant is simply not up to the job. Chelsea has lost three games since he took over, to Arsenal, Manchester United and now Spurs. Grant seems unable to mastermind a win in the most important games. If this continues until the end of the season the Israeli will not be in charge for the 2008/9 season. The English pundits have not been slow in attacking Grant. Alan Hansen in the Daily Telegraph, one of the foremost football pundits in English football, wrote on Monday that Grant's decisions were "absolutely disastrous" and Sky Sports ran a poll on Tuesday asking whether the Israeli was "out of his depth." When Grant was appointed there were some claims that anti-Semitism was the cause of much of the criticism of the new Chelsea manager. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Israeli is not in the same league as his predecessor. Roman Abramovich gave the Israeli a mandate to improve the quality of football from a vastly talented Chelsea side. Grant has failed to accomplish this and is in danger of winning nothing this season. The Russian oligarch has invested over $1 billion into Chelsea and is very unlikely to stick by an unsuccessful manager even if they are friends. Current Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard is favurite to take over next season, when Grant will most likely become a quirky Israeli footnote in the vast landscape of English soccer.