Was there any doubt that Avram Grant would become Pompey boss when he took the position of Director of football in October? As he awaits a work permit that will allow him to become manager, the situation bears a remarkable resemblance to his appointment at Chelsea in 2007.
A personal friend of Roman Abramovich, Grant was appointed director of football at Stamford Bridge in July 2007 and when the west London club fell out of love with ‘The Special One’ Jose Mourinho, Grant was quickly drafted in to fill the vacancy. Chelsea’s fans did not take well to the Israeli who they felt did not have the expertise at the highest level to lead their club. Several unnamed players were quoted as saying his training methods were outdated and that the club deserved a bigger manager than him.
After losing his first game to Manchester United 3 days into his tenure, Grant would take Chelsea to the Mestalla stadium and record a 2-1 victory over Valencia and subsequently go on a 16 game unbeaten run that saw Grant offered a 4 year deal in December.
Despite losing in the Carling Cup final to Spurs, Grant was able to push United to the wire in the league and after victories over both Arsenal and United, Chelsea just missed out on the Premier League by 2 points.
Unlike Mourinho, Grant was able to get Chelsea to the Champions League final but unfortunately Man United would again get the better of the London club, winning on penalties on a wet night in Moscow and three days later Chelsea terminated Grant’s contract for his failure to deliver the Champions League despite being so close.
In October he was brought in at Portsmouth as director of football in an attempt to help the ailing club’s fortunes but with the results not getting any better, manager Paul Hart was sacked on Tuesday and Avram Grant was drafted in for his second spell in the Premier League.
Portsmouth will hope he can reverse their fortunes after his impressive spell at Chelsea but there is a massive difference, at Chelsea he had a talented squad with funds at his disposal whereas on the south coast he will have to rejuvenate a squad of loan and free transfer signings, with no significant funds likely to be released in January to sign new players. At Chelsea he was charged with winning the league and Champions league but at Fratton Park he will have to guide Pompey through a relegation battle, a situation of which he has no experience.
If he is able to do so, the move to install him as manager will seem a masterstroke but if he fails, like he failed at Stamford Bridge, then the implications could be disastrous for Pompey.