Grant bemused as Obi's ban appeal fails

September 25, 2007

Avram Grant has voiced his disappointment at the Football Association's decision to reject Chelsea's appeal against Mikel John Obi's sending off against Manchester United on Sunday.

Mikel was red-carded by referee Mike Dean during Chelsea's 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford for a challenge on Patrice Evra.

But Chelsea's appeal was dismissed by the FA's disciplinary commission earlier today.

The Nigerian midfielder will now serve a three-match suspension, starting with Chelsea's Carling Cup third-round tie at Hull tomorrow.

Mikel will also sit out the Blues' next two Premier League games - at home to Fulham on Saturday and at Bolton the following weekend.

However, John Terry is set to escape any disciplinary action for attempting to grab Dean's red card - but Chelsea could be in hot water for their players' collective response.

The England captain tried to grab the card while protesting to Dean and there have been suggestions the Football Association could take retrospective action.

However, the onus would be on Dean to have responded by giving Terry a yellow or red card at the time and the FA are very unlikely to pursue any action against the centre-back.

Dean did though state in his match report that he was unhappy about the reaction of at least four Chelsea players who surrounded him after the sending off.

Although the incident is not detailed as a mass confrontation, the fact Dean has reported both that incident and another that took place shortly afterwards means the FA will be forced to consider disciplinary action.

If they do proceed, then Chelsea are likely to face be fined for the disorderly conduct of their players, though given the nature of the offence the fine will be towards the lower end of the scale.

The FA have refused to comment, saying they do not divulge the contents of a referee's report.

Grant said: 'I am very disappointed and surprised. One of things I teach my players and even my children is that when you make a mistake you can admit it.

'I can promise if I make a mistake I will tell you. It has happened to all of us - nobody is perfect.

'The referee made a mistake - he made three mistakes - but one of them he could correct and he didn't do it, so I am very disappointed.

'On Sunday, the referee affected the result with three bad decisions. Our players were very disappointed but I like their reaction. If I saw something wrong, it was the decisions of the referee.'

Grant has now had time to work with the players following his shock elevation to the job as Jose Mourinho's successor last Wednesday.

Although his first game in charge ended in that 2-0 defeat against United, he believes he has the full backing of the players despite continuing stories of dressing room unrest.

Grant said: 'I think I have the backing of the players. I can only judge them by their actions or by the words they speak to me.

'I spoke with the players individually and even before I became a manager. My relationship with them is good and I enjoy working with them. You saw on Sunday their attitude was at a high level.

'In training and on the pitch I think Chelsea can be very proud of these players. They are very professional and have a good attitude, I don't see one problem so far.

'But look, I don't think anyone is happy from this situation. The situation has happened but nobody in the club was happy. But it has happened and this is football, it is not the first time it has happened.

'But we need to adapt to it as soon as possible, and I think all of us, the players and the management have done that and we are looking forward to improving our quality of football, that is our goal.

'I am very happy with their attitude, even from the injured players, they all want to play.

'Didier (Drogba) started training on Monday, one week before we expected, Ricardo Carvalho started training on Tuesday and Frank Lampard is doing very well, so I expect to see them in the team soon.'

Grant has spoken to most of the players, both individually and as a group, and he has been heartened by the reaction so far. But he knows that in a squad of 25, he knows there will always be someone who is a unhappy.

Grant added: 'It has been much better than I thought and I am sure it will be much better from now. When you have 25 players in the squad it sometimes happens that one or two are not happy.

'For the moment, I have not seen that. I am a very positive person - I like to think about the positive things the players can bring to Chelsea.

'I know some will not be happy because I know it cannot be 100% happiness.'

Grant admits it is not an ideal time to take charge but insists he had no hesitation about moving into Mourinho's seat.

He is now determined to get Chelsea playing the kind of stylish football billionaire owner Roman Abramovich desires - but he warns that it will take time.

Grant added: 'I am not naive, I know it is not an ideal time to take the team. No time for preparation or to put my style into the team.

'It is not an ideal time but I believe in this team, the club and the players. I saw them last week- they were very sensitive but very professional also - I like that combination.

'I think we can do something here. This season we haven't played so well or scored enough goals, so we need many things to improve and in a short time.

'We need to build a style through training but it is a process, it is not arriving in one day.

'As long as I am at the club, I try to do my job. Chelsea need to improve the style of the team and I think we can do it with these players.

'You cannot switch it overnight. But I don't think we need a long time.

'I will try to get the best from all the players. You will see, even in a short time, that Chelsea will be better than the beginning of the year.'