Five in line for Chelsea job
Mon, May 26, 2008
The Straits Times
LONDON - AVRAM Grant, who felt 'betrayed, upset and angry' after being sacked by Chelsea, could be replaced by the man who has labelled him a 'loser' - Jose Mourinho.

The biggest question in English soccer is who will Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich pick to spend his millions in a bid to haul in Manchester United next season.

Before his sacking on Saturday, Grant said that finishing twice as runners-up to United in the Premier League and Champions League and losing to Tottenham in the League Cup equalled a good season in his eyes.

Obviously, Abramovich, who had no hesitation in axing a man whom he claims is a close personal friend, did not think so. And neither did Grant's predecessor, Mourinho.

However, when asked if the season had been as depicted by Grant, Mourinho, the self-proclaimed 'Special One', said: 'That depends on your philosophy of leadership.

'In my philosophy, it was a very bad one because in football, 'almost' means defeat and Chelsea almost won the League Cup, almost won the Champions League and almost won the Premier League. Almost is nothing.

'After two titles per season for the last three years, there were zero titles this season which, in my philosophy, means a really bad season. Maybe in the philosophy of a loser, this was a great season, which I respect.'

The Portuguese, who was speaking just before his successor was sacked, is favourite to replace Roberto Mancini at Italian champions Inter Milan.

He has already drawn up plans for next season and is likely to take Chelsea striker Didier Drogba with him.

But, it seems, Abramovich has been busy courting the man he sacked in September for a shock return to Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich made the Portuguese manager the extraordinary gift of a limited edition Ferrari worth more than £2 million (S$5.34 million) in the immediate aftermath of Grant's debilitating League Cup final loss to Tottenham in February.

Mourinho added in his interview with The Observer that he was 'very sad' at Chelsea's defeat in Moscow last Wednesday.

'The supporters deserve more, Roman deserves more, top people like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho deserve happiness. I still think of them as my boys.'

Grant has agreed to a £5.2million pay-off after just nine months in charge. He is in line for a quick return to Premier League management with Manchester City, where Sven-Goran Eriksson is suffering a lingering death at the hands of owner Thaksin Shinawatra.

Grant apparently told friends: 'I took on the job at a very difficult time but Chelsea have pulled the plug on me. I feel very hurt, upset and angry. I feel completely betrayed.'

FRANK RIJKAARD: Sacked by Barcelona, his attacking football style could appeal to Chelsea.

ROBERTO MANCINI: Inter coach called Chelsea to express interest in the job, reported an Italian paper.

GUUS HIDDINK: Bookies' favourite. The Russia coach could be available after Euro 2008.

MARCELLO LIPPI: Shock contender as he has not coached since leading Italy to 2006 World Cup.

JOSE MOURINHO: Had 'cosy chats' with Roman Abramovich and would be a popular choice.

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