Why Avram Grant can be Celtic’s Saving Grace
Let’s get this straight first: this is not a propaganda piece for Grant after yesterday’s result. We as a club must be searching for the right manager now if we are to get back to the heights of seven years ago. If we sit and dwindle our thumbs, we could end up with another Tony Mowbray.
We need a manager who can rebuild the mess that has been left. We need someone who can build a solid spine for our team and get together a defence that is capable with dealing with the basic set piece. We need a winner with experience and someone with the right winning mentality. So why Avram Grant?
If it wasn’t for the rain in Moscow back in 2008, Avram Grant would most likely be out of reach for a club like Celtic. Instead, it caused John Terry to miss his penalty, and ultimately, cost Avram Grant his job as Chelsea manager. It wasn’t just Terry’s inability to score a penalty that cost Grant though, as he was always up against it at Chelsea to succeed the ‘Special One’. Despite never being a fans favourite, Grant took Chelsea to a League Cup final, a Champions League final (something which Mourinho tried and failed with Chelsea) and had taken them to a last day title decider against Manchester United, stacking up an impressive 74 of the 96 points available.
Despite that, they won nothing. However, Grant has won numerous titles back in his native Israel and does have a winning mentality, something vital for a club like Celtic. A similarly important aspect was how Grant managed to control a dressing room of personalities, none bigger than the Chelsea one who where loyal to Mourinho. Grant knows what it’s like to handle players, however big their status, and I think there could be one or two Celtic players who ‘s attitude would suitably lighten up if he was given the job.
It’s hard to describe what’s going on at Portsmouth and the job he has done/doing there. He inherited a squad which was dwindling by each month and could sign absolutely no one (Jamie O’Hara’s loan was only extended) but despite that, has managed a 30% win ratio at the club when they lost their first seven games and were docked nine points due to administration. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to admire how he managed to get Portsmouth to the FA Cup final. Whatever he did to the players, we badly need some of that fight and desire here in Glasgow because this is one of the worst Celtic teams that I have seen that has no passion, heart or hunger for the shirt. Watching our semi final then the Portsmouth one was like light and day; it was embarrassing.
One of the most important features about the new manager is money. How much will be given to him and how much will we need to spend to bring him in? I severely doubt Grant will be at Portsmouth next season (or any of the team) and more importantly for us, he would cost very little money, if at all any. He made shrewd buys at Chelsea (Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovi? – important players for them currently) and knows the European market inside out with his previous work, so would you trust him to build our team? I would.
The board simply must grow some balls and make a stand for our club: this appointment is going to be one of the most important in our history. If we fail in this and continue to under spend then Rangers will be looking at three-in-a-row, something unimaginable only 12 months ago.
With the greatest respect to Neil Lennon, we cannot go for the cheap option in him. Do we go for another relatively cheap option in Paul Lambert, with only a little more experience than Lennon? Or does the board go out, spend money and get someone who can put us back where we ultimately belong?
The general consensus is to go for Mark Hughes, someone who is also free and available now. He made his Blackburn team a bunch of physical players who were hard to beat, and often bought a sound bargain (Christopher Samba, Roque Santa Cruz, Benni McCarthy, David Bentley, etc). He is someone who ticks the boxes, but I believe he is bound for claret colours this summer in the shape of West Ham (if they survive) or Aston Villa (if O’Neill walks).
Whoever we get, it must be someone who can pull us out of this nightmare. The board will be mad if they don’t contact Avram Grant about the Celtic job, as he took on an impossible role at Chelsea (Strachan after O’Neill anyone?) and went so close to winning a treble, more so the Champions League that they so covet. He also did the impossible by taking quite a literally a joke club to a FA Cup final through pure spirit, and hopefully, if the board have any sense, he can do the impossible and pull this club out of relentless misery.