Grant is game for holy day

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - EXCLUSIVE BY SI­MON GRIVER

Avram Grant’s fa­ther has de­fended his son over the clash be­tween Chelsea’s Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal sec­ond leg co­in­cid­ing with Holo­caust Day.

The Is­raeli man­ager looks set to come in for fierce crit­i­cism back home as he is ex­pected to be in the dugout for the Stam­ford Bridge’s club most im­por­tant match of the sea­son on April 30.

The game will not be tele­vised live in Is­rael as the date is con­sid­ered in­ap­pro­pri­ate to en­gage in leisure and en­ter­tain­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

But Meir Granat, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, has no prob­lems with his son go­ing to work on the Wed­nes­day. “Avram has al­ways re­spected the me­mory of the Holo­caust” he said. “I have no prob­lem with him coach­ing his team on Holo­caust Day. On the con­trary, there could be no bet­ter re­sponse to Nazism and an­tisemitism than for a Jew to lead his team through to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.”

Chelsea de­fender Tal Ben Haim has re­port­edly crit­i­cised Grant af­ter play­ing just six matches since the turn of the year. He said: “Jose Mour­inho is the rea­son I came to Chelsea and if I knew Avram Grant was go­ing to be the coach I would have signed for an­other club.

“The fact is, while Jose was the coach, I played most of the games and peo­ple who know me know that I would not have come here to be a re­serve. I knew noth­ing good would come for me with Grant as Chelsea coach.”

Be­fore the club’s two mid­week games, Grant, who was again tar­get of an­tisemitic abuse in the home match against Wi­gan on Mon­day, was praised by the Chelsea board over the job he has per­formed since tak­ing over from Mour­inho. Chelsea chair­man Bruce Bruck ad­mits the club are “un­be­liev­ably happy” with the 52-year-old.

Speak­ing at a fans fo­rum, the Amer­i­can said: “The board and Ro­man (Abramovich) did not ex­pect that we would be sit­ting here to­day as semi­fi­nal­ists in the Cham­pi­ons League and in con­tention of win­ning the Pre­mier League. Right now Avram’s re­sults are very good.”

Malaysia has agreed to lift a travel ban on Is­raelis to al­low Grant and Ben Haim into the coun­try for Chelsea’s mini-Asian tour in July.

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