Grant: I can handle the Chelsea dressing room

September 22, 2007

Avram Grant is confident of earning the respect of the dressing room and keeping Chelsea in the hunt for the Premier League title following the departure of Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho had total authority over his squad at Stamford Bridge during a trophy-laden three years and there have been reports of player unrest during a turbulent week.

Grant, despite a successful spell as Israel coach, does not have the same Champions League credentials as the `Special One' but feels he has the squad to add to Chelsea's silverware haul since Roman Abramovich took over.

Grant and Abramovich are friends but the club have insisted his arrival as director of football in the summer has had nothing to do with Mourinho's departure.

''If I thought I cannot make it I would not take the job,'' said 52-year-old Grant.

''I took it because I think I can handle the situation, including in the dressing room.

''I can make things better, I must say they were good already, but I want to make things better.

''I am very satisfied with the squad we have. It is a good squad that can play good football and win titles.''

Grant explained that his arrival and swift appointment following Mourinho's departure does not mean he had a hand in the Portuguese coach leaving.

''I was director of football, my relationship with Jose was good,'' he added. ''I did my job, he did his job.''

Grant could not ask for a tougher start, taking his team up to Manchester United tomorrow, the third Chelsea boss in a row to start his reign against Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

He did not take training the day before the match either as it was Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday.

Just before Mourinho kicked his Chelsea career off with a 1-0 win over United, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said he would stand or fall by the appointment.

After a colourful and successful three years, he stated that the same applied to the appointment of Grant.

''Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be here (unveiling him),'' said Kenyon. ''I was party to this decision and I'm supporting it. That statement about Jose Mourinho has stood the test of time and it had worked out, I don't feel embarrassed about it.''

Kenyon also explained his feelings towards Mourinho's departure after working closely with him since 2004.

''A major part of my job is keeping it together, and doing things on the basis that it is the right thing for Chelsea,'' said Kenyon.

''On Wednesday night I thought it was the right thing for Chelsea that we moved on, today I think it is the right thing for me to support Avram, the rest of the board and the owner in the club going forward.

''I feel comfortable with that and I feel honest about that.''

Chairman Bruce Buck added: ''The relationship between Jose and the board had broken down. Peter recognised that.''

There is still plenty of work to be done next week following Grant's appointment, and the club are looking to hire a physical coach and a goalkeeper coach.

Grant is yet to sign a new deal following his appointment so that will also be resolved.

Mourinho, meanwhile, has confirmed a move to another Premier League club will not be his ''next step''.

''I will come back and manage here, but I don't want it as my next step - it must be another country, another experience, another football,'' he said.

''I'm 44 and I hope I will have many years in English football. I love English football.''