What do you get if you sack a controversial Portuguese manager and replace him with an introverted Israeli coach at Chelsea? According to Alan Curbishley in The Guardian, exactly the same team who continue to pick up wins on account of the foundations laid by their predecessor.
The West Ham coach has certainly stirred up a real hornet’s nest ahead of Saturday lunchtime’s derby match between Chelsea and the Hammers, belittling any effect that Avram Grant has had on the team, despite an impressive string of victories since Jose Mourinho departed.
“They’re talking it up but if you care to look at it, there’s not much difference,” Curbishley said. “Drogba is a handful, the midfield three are as strong as you get, John Terry plays when he’s fit and the other players are put around them. The side is well established and they play a certain way, it’s just carried on.
“When he [Grant] took the job on he must have thought, ‘I’m gonna win more than I lose with the squad I’ve got.’ The foundations Mourinho left were there for everyone to see and he’s taken over nice and quietly and picked up the results.”
While it’s certainly been a case of evolution rather than revolution at Stamford Bridge, these comments have surely been designed to ruffle a few feathers ahead of Saturday’s game. While there’s no doubt that Grant presides over a group of talented players, Mourinho’s final three matches as Blues boss had seen the team lose 2-0 at Aston Villa, draw 0-0 at home to Blackburn and then manage only a 1-1 draw with Rosenborg. The scoreline in the corresponding fixture on Wednesday night? 4-0 to Chelsea.