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Heat is on as Grant must land Chelsea a trophy to save his s


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Guest Brian M

Heat is on as Grant must land Chelsea a trophy to save his skin

By MATT LAWTON and NEIL ASHTON

Amid rumours of serious dressing-room unrest, the Stamford Bridge hierarchy are understood to be hugely disappointed with Grant's failure to rise to the occasion at Wembley.

Owner Roman Abramovich visited the Chelsea dressing room after Tottenham's much-deserved 2-1 victory and is said to share the views of those who thought Grant not only picked the wrong team but then displayed a lack of tactical nous and also failed to inspire his players at key times.

In particular, they were shocked to see him on the periphery when coach Steve Clarke delivered a team talk between the end of normal time and the beginning of extra-time, while problems in the dressing room will not help Grant's cause.

Sportsmail understands that there has been a heated exchange between Frank Lampard and the manager after Grant told him he could no longer expect to play in every game.

Grant suggested on Friday that the injuries Lampard has suffered this year could be the price he is paying for those remarkable record-breaking appearance runs in the past.

Andriy Shevchenko is also said to be unhappy with Grant after the Ukraine striker was asked to play in a behind-closed doors match against Chelsea's youth team — and ended up, incredibly, on the losing side.

Shevchenko was also among a number of senior Chelsea players unhappy at not being invited to stay with the Cup Final squad in London on the eve of the match.

Only those who were in the starting XI or on the bench spent the night at the Landmark Hotel, with the likes of Shevchenko and Ashley Cole told to travel to the stadium in their club suits on the day of the game.

But it is the way the team — and indeed Grant — performed that most concerned Abramovich and the Chelsea board.

The Israeli seemed to have the full support of his employers when they handed him a four-year contract in December and he also had their public backing when the club announced their financial results last week.

Chairman Bruce Buck said: 'We judge a manager on results and, to date, his results have been very, very good.' Before Sunday, his record was impressive. In 34 games since succeeding Jose Mourinho he had won 24 and drawn eight.

But he has lost key matches — against Manchester United and Arsenal — and failed what amounted to the sternest test of his managerial career at the weekend.

Chelsea fear Grant could prove no more successful than Claudio Ranieri in his one season as manager under Abramovich. Back then, second in the Barclays Premier League and a Champions League semi-final was not considered good enough.

Standards are still every bit as high at Stamford Bridge and one observer noted that they remain 'a club in a hurry', which means Grant will have to deliver in the title race, the Champions League or the FA Cup to save his job.

Sunday's evidence would suggest Grant is going to struggle, which in turn is likely to result in a replacement arriving in the summer.

Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard, who still plans to leave the Nou Camp at the end of this season and would have the opportunity to link up again with coach Henk Ten Cate at Chelsea, is the clear favourite.

Grant cancelled a trip to Israel after the Cup Final defeat. He was due to report to the Israeli FA's headquarters on Monday morning for the second session of his UEFA Pro Licence course but chose to remain in London after the setback.

John Terry refused to criticise his manager for his passive approach after Grant left the extra-time team talk to Clarke and the Chelsea and England captain.

Terry said: 'That's part of my role. If the manager's got something to say, he'll say it. Clarkey, Lamps, Didier will. But at that moment, when the camera was on me, it was my time to speak. I felt I had to speak and I did.'

Terry wasted little time in delivering another message to the Chelsea dressing room. 'It's tough to say, but Tottenham deserved to win,' he said. 'As a team and as individuals, we just weren't good enough.

'It's hard. The last thing the players want to hear is my voice and that we need to pick ourselves up. But we need to, we're still in three massive competitions.

'The Premier League is not over, we go to West Ham on Saturday. We've got the Champions League after that and then the FA Cup after that. It's all coming around very quickly.

'We can do one of two things; we can either dwell on this and end up getting knocked out of another competition or we take this defeat on the chin, pick ourselves up and go again.'

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Chelsea fear Grant could prove no more successful than Claudio Ranieri in his one season as manager under Abramovich. Back then, second in the Barclays Premier League and a Champions League semi-final was not considered good enough.

To be fair to Claudio, IMO he was an important step on the way up, instead of Grant helping us slide back into mediocraty.

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Guest Brian M
To be fair to Claudio, IMO he was an important step on the way up, instead of Grant helping us slide back into mediocraty.

Spot on.

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Guest Brian M
that's why a number of Chelsea players will be shown the door at the end of the season.

...and a number of Barca players brought in to take their place. icon_wink.gif

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