Portsmouth fans were greeted to the news today that one of the most evil looking men in football was being promoted to the role of manager at the south coast club, Avram Grant. The former Chelsea manager just has those eyes that seem to pierce through people and he wouldn’t look out of place as a villain in a James Bond film. The Israeli has an aura about him and when footballers get the silent treatment from him it must be one of the scariest experiences of their life. The highly experienced and well respected manager has a tough challenge facing him at Portsmouth, but is Avram Grant the man to turn around Portsmouth’s fortunes and keep them in the Premier League?
Avram Grant has more managerial experience than most, as the 54 year old started coaching when he was just 18. He is one of the most successful Israeli managers in the country’s history, having coached Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv amongst other teams in his homeland, before taking the job of the Israel national coach in 2002. Back in Israel Grant is known as a lucky winner, which is something that Pompey desperately need at the moment and they will be hoping that ‘Avram’s Ass’, a phrase that refers to his luck, will bring good fortune to Portsmouth.
Grant certainly has a better chance of succeeding at Portsmouth than he did at Chelsea, where he had the unenviable task of following ‘The Special One’, Jose Mourinho. Right from the outset at Stamford Bridge Grant was up against it, as many Chelsea fans were still unhappy to see the back of the Portuguese manager and wouldn’t have been happy with whoever their new manager was. Grant’s spell at Chelsea was more successful than many people would have you believe though, with Chelsea finishing as runners up in both the Premiership and Champions League in 2008. However, he was subjected to chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ during his time at Chelsea, and Mourinho unfairly branded him a loser after that night in Moscow.
Now though Grant has the opportunity to step out of the shadow of Jose Mourinho and Harry Redknapp and show the Premier League what he can do. He did a good job when he was Technical Director at Portsmouth in 2006 and helped Redknapp develop an exciting squad. Known for not being scared to play youngsters, Grant should be welcomed by Pompey fans who have fond memories of his previous spell at Fratton Park. If Avram is given money to spend in January then he might just be able to turn Portsmouth into a winning team, but does he have the ability to turn Pompey’s season around?
You wonder whether Avram Grant enjoys a challenge, as first taking over from Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and now taking charge of a Portsmouth team who have been cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier League are both tough asks. At least at Portsmouth things can only get better as D:Ream once sang, but will that still be the case at Fratton Park at the end of the season? You never know, if he keeps Portsmouth in the Premiership he may even give the fans a smile, but which of those is more unlikely?