Chelseashould­notletAvramgo,saysHansen

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BYDANNYCARO

LIVER­POOL leg­end Alan Hansen has spo­ken out in sup­port of Avram Grant and says it would be un­just if he was re­placed at Chelsea.

The BBC pun­dit feels that the Stam­ford Bridge job is one of the tough­est in foot­ball and claims the Is­raeli has done an ex­cel­lent job since tak­ing over from Jose Mour­inho in Septem­ber.

“Chelsea are dif­fer­ent from any other club,” he said. “If you fin­ish close to the top in the Pre­mier League and reach the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons League, 99 times out of 100 that will be good enough. But Chelsea are dif­fer­ent. We saw that un­der Mour­inho who won two league ti­tles and was on his way. Whether Avram goes, I’m not 100 per cent sure.

“He took over at a bad time at Chel- sea and stead­ied the ship. The only way you can tell what a man­ager’s like is if you’re in the dress­ing room, but to me, it would be harsh if he was sacked.

“As the sea­son’s worn on, he’s be­come more and more con­fi­dent. Again, whether or not that’s enough for him to keep his job, we’ll have to wait and see. He’s done a re­ally good job. They were un­for­tu­nate not to win the league but were up against a re­ally good side in Manch­ester United and the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal will speak for it­self.”

Hansen did not want to dis­cuss me­dia treat­ment or an­tisemitic in­ci­dents to­wards Grant, but he gave the thumbs-up to the Chelsea owner. “I think Ro­man Abramovich has been good for foot­ball. Peo­ple can be cyn­i­cal about the money but he’s cer­tainly raised the bar in English foot­ball.

“If you’ve got three teams in the semi-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League your league must be good be­cause no longer can you win the Pre­mier League by be­ing very good. I think you’ve got to be great — and that’s be­cause of Abramovich.”

The for­mer Scot­land de­fender has also been im­pressed by Is­rael cap­tain Yossi Be­nay­oun who re­cently com­pleted his first sea­son at his for­mer club.

“He’s a qual­ity player with great feet and great tech­ni­cal abil­ity. If he gets a run in the team and pro­duces what we know he’s ca­pa­ble of, then he can add some­thing in the fi­nal third of the pitch. I think he’s got to show that in his sec­ond sea­son at An­field.”

Look­ing ahead to the next cam­paign, Hansen ad­mits that Liver­pool “must strengthen the wide po­si­tions. Fer­nando Tor­res has been mag­nif­i­cent so if Rafa Ben­itez can get two or three play­ers in the wide po­si­tions then I think Liver­pool could be in busi­ness”.

Hansen, who made 434 ap­pear­ances for Liver­pool and won the Euro­pean Cup three times, was speak­ing at the Row­ley Lane Mac­cabi Recre­ational Trust fourth an­nual fundrais­ing lunch in cen­tral Lon­don.

He re­called that ex-Not­ting­ham For­est hard man Kenny Burns and Ox­ford United striker Billy White­hurst were “two of the tough­est op­po­nents” he had come up against in his ca­reer.

Com­pli­ment­ing the work in­volved in the 50-acre Row­ley Lane project which has been given the go-ahead for a flood­light G3 pitch, Hansen re­called: “The ven­ture is go­ing to be suc­cess­ful and will ul­ti­mately show peo­ple how it can be done.

“Hope­fully, it will be the spring­board for other or­gan­i­sa­tions to do the same thing.

“When I grew up, there were no com­put­ers or Plays­ta­tions. You ei­ther played foot­ball or you played foot­ball. There was noth­ing else to do.

“Kids don’t play as much sport as when I was a young­ster and I think that this is tak­ing its toll on so­ci­ety. When I was at school, peo­ple were en­cour­aged to play sport, but now I think it’s the op­po­site. ”

Birm­ing­ham mid­fielder Daniel De Rid­der is set to fly to Is­rael next week for talks with Mac­cabi Tel Aviv.

Alan Hansen

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