Avram Grant: The Premier League’s Forgotten Manager

Former football player turned breakfast show presenter Clive Gritt MBE discusses the perpetual revolving door of Premier League management…

The Premier League’s revolving door is infamous as a perpetually rotating entity but, now more than ever, the same managers are meeting each other as they come and go.

Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Ray Hodgson and Tone Pulis are the go-to men for so many managers. They are undoubtedly the output of any Chairman’s algorithm which calculates how to reach 40 points.

You would imagine an element of awkwardness would exist between the aforementioned names as they take each other’s prior jobs on an almost annual basis. You don’t belong in the bottom half of the Premier League if your doorstep has never been graced with their presence.

Yet for mystical appeal these managers possess, they have very little to show for it. They can never be considered revolutionaries of the game. Their style of play is as languid as it is turgid. It is certainly effective, but only to a point. Playing brinkmanship with relegation is hardly the high watermark sought by the fans of the clubs these men work for.

Some clubs have a tendency to go too far the other way.

The opposite of a greying British manager is a chiselled, young foreigner. Frank de Boer, if you will. And that worked out awfully.

There is a middle ground that clubs ignore, the football equivalent of aviation in Somerset: we flyover but never land. It’s possible to hire an experienced manager who breaks the mould in terms of personality and style of play. There is one manager who fits this bill perfectly but has become the Premier League’s forgotten manager.

Rarely has a manager impacted the Premier League with so little recognition as Avram Grant. His spell at Chelsea is ignored outright, a symptom of that particular era at Chelsea. Grant’s predecessors and successors were so numerous that a single mind would struggle to recall them all. The revolving door we mentioned was fitted with a turbo at Stamford Bridge, meaning achievement was cast aside quicker than, well, Chelsea managers were by Roman Abramovich.

The facts and figures speak for themselves. Only Jose Mourinho in his first spell and Antonio Conte currently hold higher win percentage rates in the Abramovich era. Chelsea went big on managers, supporting them to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. Grant didn’t spend a single penny yet extracted a higher performance level by far.

Let’s not forget the personalities involved.

The Chelsea dressing room of the 2000s was one of the most powerful to ever grace the Premier League, not just in playing style but also in ruling the roost at a Premier League club. To bring them to heel as Grant did displayed a level of strength and charisma that was not becoming of romantic managers such André Villas-Boas and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Grant’s style of play was certainly pleasing to the eye, almost-but-not-quite to a fault. Adventurous attacking movement was a hallmark of his tenure and he undoubtedly progressed the club from the calamitous start to the season under Jose Mourinho in 2007. Their journey to the Champions League final was exhilarating and only to be undone by an untimely failure of gravity when John Terry was aiming his right foot for the ball.

Premier League fans buy into the hype of the league as a totality, more so than their own clubs occasionally do. They long for exciting, attacking play and would settle for just scoring more than their opponent. Hodgson and Allardyce recoil at the thought. Avram Grant will take that challenge head-on. Another want for Premier League fans is to enjoy the fruits of the academy labour. Nothing gets football fans tongues wagging quite like a decent young player bursting onto the scene. All through his managerial career, Avram Grant has turned to youth in his pursuit of points.

There is a clique to be broken if the Premier League wants to genuinely consider itself the best sporting competition on earth. The riches will hit a ceiling if the product is broken. Few people would argue that Super Sunday’s are less super than sleepy.

Bold managerial selections can reverse this trend. Even better yet that the choice is not risky. Avram Grant has seen the footballing world and excelled quietly and calmly. When a Premier League job next comes up, chairmen would do well to give him a call.

You can find Clive on Twitter: @TheCliveGritt

You can hear Clive on the Clive Gritt Breakfast Show.

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