Grant fury at officials after Chelsea charge

November 27, 2007

Chelsea coach Avram Grant wants `positive' talks with the Football Association after insisting his side are being targeted by card-happy officials.

Grant unleashed an icy blast at the FA after Michael Essien's red card appeal was rejected and Chelsea were charged with failing to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion following his dismissal for violent conduct against Derby on Saturday.

Grant's frosty riposte was as chilly as the snow-covered streets of Trondheim which greeted his team ahead of tomorrow night's Champions League clash with Group B's surprise package Rosenborg.

Victory for Chelsea will ensure their qualification for the knockout stages as group winners but Essien's red card and the latest charge from the FA overshadowed their preparations.

Grant insisted that the FA were wrong to charge them with any offence even though Chelsea's players surrounded referee Andre Marriner in the wake of Essien's dismissal.

And Grant is so concerned that his side are being targeted too readily by officials after his players collected three red cards since he replaced axed Jose Mourinho in September, that he wants talks with the FA.

Grant declared: 'I think the hand is on whistle too easy against us. All the red cards are too easy, they are not red cards. I saw what happened with Michael Essien.

'There are no pockets, so what can he do with his hands? He didn't do anything wrong and it wasn't a red card.

'I just know the facts. The red card against Man Utd (Mikel John Obi) was not a red card, the red card against Fulham was not a red card for Didier Drogba and the red card for Michael was not a red card.

'It cost us points in two of those games but I don't think it is fair. I don't know what the reason is but I see the facts - the red cards are too easily being given against us.

'The same things happen with other players and there is no red card.'

Grant was equally defensive over the allegations that Chelsea's players were again guilty of putting pressure on a match official.

He declared: 'Even the red card in our game against Man Utd, the first player who went to the referee was a Man Utd player. The red card on Saturday, if you see the players of Derby, they went to him before my players.

'Something is too easy against Chelsea. We need to think about it together.

'I want to do something in a positive way with the FA but we need to do something. There are good referees in England but not all the refs are the same.

'My players were not happy with Essien's red card and I wasn't happy. It was an unfair decision. We are an easy target.'

On a happier note for Grant, he is set to welcome striker Drogba back against Rosenborg.

Drogba has recovered from the knee injury he sustained on international duty with the Ivory Coast and was absent from the opening Group B game against the Norwegians which ended 1-1 at Stamford Bridge and cost Jose Mourinho his job.

But there was no disguising Grant's Champions League ambitions as he looks for the win that will send Chelsea through to the knockout stage.

Grant added: 'What we want is to qualify for the next round and what is important is a good result. We didn't start so well. We only had one point and when we played Valencia everybody thought they were better than us. So now we have a chance to qualify and that's what we want to do.

'I don't mean any disrespect to the other competitions, but the Champions League can make you a bigger club than what you are.

'Arsenal have only one appearance in the final of the Champions League but I think that's what pushed them to be a better club than they were before.

'Chelsea has not even been in the final. This is our target and we can do it. I know it is not easy and there are many good clubs in Europe, but we can do it.

'In the league it is not so easy because we dropped so many points at the start of the season. But now we are only two points from Manchester United and five behind Arsenal, and United are having a great season so you can see we can do things in the league.

'But in the Champions League we need results more than anything. I will not say we are better than the other big clubs in Europe but they are not better than us.'