Grant gets public display of support after opening loss
Roman Abramovich may have watched his new manager lose his first game in charge of Chelsea but the club's Russian owner staged a very open display of support for Avram Grant on Sunday.
Sources close to the club said the Chelsea owner congratulated the players and their manager in the dressing room within 15 minutes of the final whistle.
Abramovich came to the Chelsea dressing room with fellow director Eugene Tenenbaum and his bodyguards to make it very clear he was behind Grant. The Russian told the players that they had done well despite the 2-0 defeat, which turned on 32 minutes when John Obi Mikel was harshly dismissed for a challenge on Patrice Evra. It was regarded by the players as a signal that the owner was completely in support of Grant despite an inauspicious start.
Grant's turbulent first week in charge continues tomorrow with a Carling Cup tie away against Hull City. The man himself believes that he has managed to exert some calm over the club. Frank Lampard has been the most resistant to the Israeli's appointment but after the initial shock at Jose Mourinho's departure, that prompted a squad meeting away from club officials, there has been a general acceptance among the players that the relationship between the Portuguese coach and the board was unworkable.
The question of Grant's coaching qualifications is more of a minor embarrassment than a major obstacle to his prospects of taking over Chelsea in the long-term. The Premier League rule Q4 states that a manager can produce – in place of the Uefa Pro Licence or the Football Association coaching diploma – a "valued diploma of a similar standard issued by a national association".
Accordingly, the Israeli football federation will make a representation to Uefa that Grant has their requisite qualification having coached more than 600 hours of football since 1980. Additionally, the Israeli coaching qualification system is currently being standardised to fit in with the Uefa model which will mean Grant's Israeli licence is to be recognised by European football's governing body.
Once Grant has convinced the Premier League that he is qualified under his Israeli coaching badge he has until 2011 to obtain a Uefa Pro Licence. Chelsea already have permission to play in the Champions League this season and, by next year, they hope Uefa will recognise Israeli coaching qualifications, providing Grant is still in charge.
Grant has certainly wasted no time in trying to make friends among the English press. Today he will make himself available for the third time in five days, ahead of the trip to Hull.
The Sunday newspaper allegations that John Terry was responsible for the final ousting of Mourinho are to be contested. It was Terry who had fought Mourinho's corner with Abramovich and the board for more than a season and he takes very seriously the suggestion that last week he was actively responsible for pushing through his manager's dismissal.