COMPETENT coach unfairly tarnished by hopeless causes in Portsmouth and now West Ham, or under-qualified charisma-void still dining out on his fleeting association with a great Chelsea side? Whatever you might think of Avram Grant, he certainly divides opinion like few other managers.
Grant’s supporters will point to the fact he led Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2008 – something no other Blues boss, not even Jose Mourinho, has done before or since – and finished second in the Premier League that same season. They might also argue that his dour manner makes him an easy target, and that Portsmouth’s tawdry slide into administration made it impossible for him to avoid relegation.
The Israeli’s critics, meanwhile, insist it was the team he inherited from Mourinho, led by senior players, that came within a missed penalty of European glory that night in Moscow, and that Grant would have struggled to keep Pompey up anyway, as he has West Ham.
But now that Grant has the backing of the board and money to spend, he has the chance to show his true colours once and for all. Failure to avoid the drop – or the sack – would severely dent his career in this country, but few could deny him credit if he defied the odds and steered the Hammers to safety.