The Last Word: The greatest Israeli sports personality?

Chelsea coach Grant has been a credit to his country and Israelis can be proud of his performances.

jeremy last better pic (photo credit: Courtesy)
jeremy last better pic
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ok, he didn't win the Champions League, but can you get any closer? If proof was needed of Avraham Grant's ability to coach at the highest level, it was laid out for all to see during Wednesday night's penalty shootout defeat. The way Chelsea managed to get back into the game after a poor opening half hour, not only with Frank Lampard's goal at the end of the first half, but more significantly the stunning turnaround that took place in the second half, showed more about Grant's spirit and resolve than many members of the English sports media would like to admit. Chelsea played superbly in the second 45 minutes and, while the Blues could count themselves lucky they only let in one goal in the first half, Manchester United was undeniably fortunate to not concede at all in the second. There's no need to blame Didier Drogba for the loss. He shouldn't have acted so recklessly when he slapped Nemanja Vidic and got sent off, but he could easily have missed a penalty just as John Terry did. The fact is the teams were very evenly matched in what was a cracking final. And this fact is testament not only to the abilities of the two teams, but to the coaches as well, Sir Alex Ferguson as well as a certain Israeli. Since his appointment in September, Avraham has been treated with the contempt usually reserved for the most offensive and unintelligent people. Grant is neither of those things. He has generally played it cool and must be commended for that, as well as for his many wise decisions, such as dropping the ineffective Tal Ben-Haim and bringing Michael Ballack back to the fore. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach has been a credit to his country and Israelis can be proud of his performances. In the 60-year history of Israel there has never been an Israeli who has reached the heights of any sport that is as significant internationally as Grant did on Wednesday. The question now is, What next for Avraham? Will he stay or will he go? He is not a young or naïve man and he will perhaps feel that enough is enough and he does not need the vilification to which he has been subjected by some journalists and other since he took the job on September 20. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had hoped for a day of glory in his hometown of Moscow and may not be too happy with his coach. If that is the case then even if he is asked to stay maybe it is time for Grant to move on to pastures new. There should be no shortage of top level European clubs willing to take on the Israeli and he could rebuild a team of the stature of Benfica or Ajax and even be back in the Champions League final in a few years. But if he decides to stay, then good luck to him. In the quotes he gave to the press after the game, Grant spoke about the future of Chelsea. "It's not the last time you will see Chelsea in the final, you will see us back and we will win the final." Maybe that word "us" is an indication of what we can expect of the coach from Petah Tikva.