Engish Soccer: 'Chelsea entering period of sustained European success'

Coach Avram Grant says ahead of Moscow final.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Win, lose or draw, Chelsea manager Avraham Grant doesn't think for a second that the club's first Champions League final on Wednesday will be its last. While opponent Manchester United has won both its previous appearances in the final of European club soccer's top tournament, Chelsea has never before competed at such a level. But with Roman Abramovich still backing Chelsea with his billions and a core of superstar players that have made a habit of winning even when they're playing poorly, Grant is confident that the west London club is embarking on a sustained period of European success. "Every time you create history, you want it to be the base for the future," Grant said. "We are very, very happy that we are in the final for the first time in the history of Chelsea, but we don't want to be happy just with this. "We want to go on and make others. First we have a game on Wednesday and we will speak about the future after that, but I can promise you that the future will be very good at Chelsea." While the Blues have won five domestic trophies in the past four years - more than any other English team - its European successes stretch to two triumphs in the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup and one in the largely unheralded Super Cup. That record pales against the nine European Cup wins of Real Madrid, the six of AC Milan and the five of Liverpool. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson feels that its two titles is a poor return for a club of such stature, but that's two more than Chelsea. "When you want to be a big club, you have to be between the lions of Europe," Grant said. "Now we want more, and you will see in the next years that this will not be the last time we will be in the final." Wednesday's match at Luzhniki Stadium at least represents an opportunity for the likes of Chelsea captain John Terry, star striker Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard to start changing that. "People like J.T. and Didier said a long time ago that they want to win it, and this is our chance to do that," defender Ashley Cole said. Like most of Chelsea's team, stars such as Terry, Drogba and Lampard have never played in a Champions League final. But at least Andriy Shevchenko, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Nicholas Anelka and Juliano Belletti all have experience of winning the tournament with other clubs, with Cole and Michael Ballack holding losers medals from their previous trips. Manchester United is marginally less experienced, with Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Edwin Van Der Sar and Owen Hargreaves as former winners, and Patrice Evra a runner-up. "Manchester United is a big team with great players," Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda said. "They are younger than the Chelsea players, but I think Chelsea have good experience. "A lot of players have a lot of experience, so I hope that can make the difference for this final." And winning on Wednesday would give them even more experience for next time.