No surprises in final, says Grant

COBHAM (Reuters) - Preparing for next week’s all-English Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow is easy, Chelsea manager Avram Grant said.

Chelsea manager Avram Grant attends a media conference at their training ground in Cobham, south of London, May 14, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

“On the practical side, this game is one of the easiest to prepare,” the Israeli coach told a news conference after a training session on Wednesday.

“I don’t think Alex (Ferguson) can do anything to surprise me and I don’t think we will surprise them...We know each other really well,” Grant added.

Ferguson’s United pipped Chelsea to the Premier League on Sunday after the rivals shared the spoils in league games, each winning at home. Their last knockout meeting was decided in Chelsea’s favour by a single Didier Drogba goal in last season’s FA Cup final.

Grant, 53, looked relaxed after telling reporters Chelsea’s main target this season had been to reach the Champions League final, something his popular predecessor Jose Mourinho managed with Porto but never with Chelsea, losing two semi-finals.

“But now we’ve come to the biggest game in Chelsea’s history, we want to win it,” he said. “To be a big club you need to be among the lions of Europe.”


Manchester United have won the trophy twice and it has been top of Chelsea’s priority list since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the London club in 2003, with the declared aim of making it one of the strongest in world football.

Grant, who has a seat on the Chelsea board, brushed aside questions about the constant speculation over his future at Chelsea and his friendship with Abramovich, saying he had a four-year contract but if either party were unhappy they could say so and there would be no problem.

“It is a contract between friends (but) we don’t involve friendship in our job...I am the manager, he is the owner. This is the relationship between us,” he said.

Grant, a former Israel national team coach, said he coped with pressure by being calm.

“My job is to think...You have to keep your head because as a manager you have to be in control of many things...and if you are not calm you cannot do this.

“You cannot switch off as a manager. Your job is to think not to run. You are 24 hours thinking how to make things better.”

Asked what he had done to improve on Mourinho’s legacy since taking over from the Portuguese last September, Grant was coy, saying he respected what had gone before.

He kept what was good and made a few changes, he said, “because of the vision of the club. When you come in the middle of the year you don’t have to come into it like an elephant into a shop and break everything.”

Editing by Rex Gowar