Tuesday, May 27, 2008


WILLIE RANDOLPH can thank his lucky stars he’s not managing in the English Premier League. If he were, he wouldn’t be now.

Avram Grant was one penalty kick away from winning the Champions League for Chelsea. Now the affable Israeli is out of work.

The only thing you get for coming second when you’re in charge of a club in English football’s top flight is the sack. Chelsea finished runners-up in the League, the Champions League and the League Cup.

Grant could quite easily have won three trophies. Instead, he has been shown the door just eight months into a four-year contract.

The 53-year-old took over from Portuguese coach José Mourinho – the self-styled ‘Special One’ – in September of last year.

His studious appearance and lack of flamboyance did not endear him to the British media, and there has been constant speculation about his position.

Roman Abramovich, the Russian oil tycoon who has turned the London club into a European super power, expects at least one piece of silverware every season.

Terry miss proves costly for Israeli coach

Had John Terry not slipped and missed his spot-kick against Manchester United in Moscow last week, Grant would have delivered the biggest prize of all.

But even then, the suspicion was that it was only a matter of time before a big-name coach, such as Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, replaced him.

Grant lost only two Premier League games during his spell in charge, but was criticized by fans for his team’s lack of style.

Explaining the decision to fire Grant, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said, “We have very high expectations at Chelsea and a couple of second-place finishes is just not good enough for us.

“So although we never would have thought in September when José Mourinho left that we would be able to make it into a Champions League final as we did, Chelsea are here to win trophies.”

Fortunately for Randolph, whose team has lost 26 out of 49 games this season, the Mets ownership is considerably more patient than the men who run Chelsea.

They are prepared to give him time to turn things around. Exactly how much time remains to be seen.

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