So, even though in reality this is going to be a low-key, wouldn’t-even-know-the-window-was-open type of transfer season, that will never stop the ever-growing, creative spiral of conspiracy stories from making the headlines Such as Avram Grant returning to Chelsea.
The brilliance behind this story is that it is possibly just a bit more than just a story. Even though it’s been doing the crazy cycle through the rumour mill, this month is the official home of ridiculous make-believe fantasies anyway.
Could Avram Grant be the man to help Frank Lampard and be the brains behind the madness at Chelsea Football Club?
Who would have seen this coming? It fits perfectly into the filing cabinet labelled ‘outrageous things nobody will believe’ and it’s probably right at the back of the draw as well. But if there is some truth to Chelsea’s interest in Avram Grant returning to Stamford Bridge, it makes a lot more sense than you may initially think.
People have been calling for a change in backroom staff for a few weeks now. Following the Blues poor run of form, leaving them 11 points behind leaders Manchester United, it has been debated whether Frank Lampard’s team around him is doing enough to help.
The current backroom
Those in closest contact with Lampard are Jody Morris, Joe Edwards and Anthony Barry. Morris and Edwards both have experience at Chelsea already. Morris lead the Blues youth teams, extremely successfully, for a number of years, before leaving to join Lampard at Derby County. Edwards had also worked with development teams and in technical and scouting roles at Cobham before being appointed into the first team backroom staff last season.
The final piece of that small jigsaw puzzle was appointing Anthony Barry as the new defensive coach, though he provides much more than that. Barry worked at Wigan alongside Reece James before being picked out by Lampard.
It is known that Lampard wishes to keep his backroom staff and support circle relatively small as he learns in management. He has those around him that he trusts and that isn’t going to change massively anytime soon.
However, it’s recently been pointed out among fans, and pundits, that Lampard and other inexperienced managers have a glaring weakness. Being new managers, they don’t have the knowledge to fall back on when the going gets tough.
“That’s what I’m talking about with Frank, I actually admire him for the job he did last year and what’s happening now – I loved his interview after the game. When I look at a lot of managers now; Frank being one, going into a top job after his time at Derby, the experience isn’t there.Jamie Carragher speaking on Sky Sports Monday Night Football about Lampard and other new managers lacking experience
Lampard specifically doesn’t have the years of managing top tier players, world class talents. Yes, he may have been there as a player, but doing it as a manager is completely different. Alongside this is that the rest of Lampard’s coaching staff have similar downfalls. They’re all knew and learning together. There isn’t a pool of experience and previous similar situations to look back to when things turn sour.
Avram Grant: What possible role?
This is where Avram Grant comes in. The Israeli has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a manager. He’s been around and managed some of the best players. He also knows Lampard from their time at Chelsea in 2008. Grant knows Abramovich as well.
It would be Grant’s role to help Lampard, give him advice from the perspective of a man that has been through every situation before as a manager. This sort of input from an outside source could be invaluable to helping Chelsea progress this season.
Grant has been managing since 1972, albeit with lower-tier players for most of that time, but he’s extremely well respected in the footballing world. He’s been head coach of two national sides, Israel and Ghana and knows the Premier League well, spending time at Portsmouth and West Ham after leaving London.
Although he has made it clear that he still sees himself as a manager rather than an assistant, it is believed Grant could be open to a return to Stamford Bridge.
Grant backs Lampard
He also gave support for Lampard recently on Instagram:
“About the current situation, I can say only this. You need to be strong when things are not going well, when things are going well everyone is a genius and knows what to do,” Grant said in an Instagram post.
“But in the situation like this when things aren’t going well you need to be strong, look for solutions and show a lot about your character.
“What I can say to Frank and the others at the club is be patient, and more than this do whatever is necessary to do, that’s for sure. Two things: never lose it even when things are going well, don’t lose your fighting spirit at the highest level.
“And second, don’t lose what you have here [points at head] – you need to think right and look for solutions. If you do that, then everything will be OK because the quality is there and there is a potential like there was [at Chelsea] in my time.”
Is there a long-term plan for Grant?
This is still an early developer. The belief is that Abramovich is fond of the move to help Lampard. But it does raise questions over the Englishmen’s long term future at the club.
Hopefully this will help address those issues.
If Grant has made it publicly known that he isn’t looking to be in a backroom position for long, then it’s unlikely he would ever be made permanent manager of Chelsea. Especially as the club have their own targets already for a post-Lampard era, whenever that may be.
Does appointing Grant undermine Lampard?
In short, no.
The club has to operate with it’s own intentions and goals at the forefront of it’s mind. This means taking all the necessary action to achieve those goals. If they believe in Lampard, which they clearly still do otherwise he wouldn’t be the manager, then they will back him. If doubts are raised over an area of the club or its running then the board will take steps to rectify.
This should be seen as support for Lampard. They are trying to help him in the short-term. If it goes well then it will therefore benefit Lampard and the club in the future. Even if Lampard didn’t want another member of his staff, the club has the defining vote. They hold all the shots here. It’s hard to think of a way that appointing Grant could make anything worse.
Could Grant be a potential interim?
This is where we start playing the true January window games. Completely hypothetically and personally, I think that he could and would be the first choice. If, and it really is a huge if, Lampard is sacked and Grant is in the wings, he makes the most sense to be an interim.
Chelsea have never been a club to appoint permanent managers mid-season. Grant is not in the running for the job after Lampard, but if the worst came to the worst, him being an interim isn’t the worst choice.
Written by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
Edited by Rob Pratley