Don’t Cry For Avram
(This article appeared in The Irish Examiner, on January 17, 2011)
David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady have been tactless, classless and heartless in their treatment of Avram Grant. They have undermined and betrayed their manager, leaking snippets of information to the press, forcing the former Portsmouth boss into the indignity of appearing at Upton Park on Saturday having essentially already been sacked. And yet I still don’t feel sorry for him. And neither should you. Grant knows better than anyone that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
The funereal Israeli has long been the Kate Adie of English football. When he rides into town, the locals flee. For death rides with him. Grant is a bad football manager, but he’s an even worse Director of Football. The traditional role of the DoF, on the continent at least, is to oversee long-term policy. Grant does that for a few weeks and then somehow ends up with the manager’s job. A genuine silent assassin, you can be sure that neither Jose Mourinho or Paul Hart will feel sorry for him this morning.
His continued survival in the industry has long been a mystery. Grant had a decent career in Israeli football but, after a brief spell of not taking Harry Redknapp’s job at Portsmouth, it was a personal friendship with Roman Abramovich that brought him to Chelsea. Unqualified and unready, there has never been a greater disparity between the statistics and the reality. On paper, Grant was a penalty kick away from winning the Champions League. On the pitch, it was inertia in action, Mourinho’s team gliding home in spite of their new manager. Grant’s panic at White Hart Lane, when a 3-1 lead became a 4-4 draw, told the real story. An FA Cup run flattered him at Portsmouth, earning him the West Ham gig despite the fact that his win percentage was less than Hart’s
Now, having been finally found out at Upton Park, he will leave with three and a half years of his contract paid off. Oh, for a job where a failure to meet basic performance expectations would result in a seven figure pay-off. Yes, the West Ham hierarchy have acted appallingly in dragging this out, but don’t be fooled into feeling sorry for Grant. He has been as ruthless as the rest of them and I assure you, he’ll be absolutely fine.