Friday, March 24, 2023

Chelsea face end of an era after Moscow retreat (SN)

As Chelsea beat a weary retreat from Moscow after their Champions League final defeat, Avram Grant's side were facing up to the end of an era.

Manchester United's penalty shoot-out victory in the Russian capital was harsh on the Blues, who deserved more reward for a powerful display, but the repercussions will be felt throughout Stamford Bridge for months to come.

Grant could be the most senior casualty if owner Roman Abramovich decides the disappointment of seeing his club beaten in his home country is the final straw after a season of let-downs.

The Israeli announced his arrival as Jose Mourinho's successor in September by calling himself “the normal one” and he has proved far too average for Chelsea's high standards.

Mourinho delivered five major trophies in his three-year reign but Grant could only offer defeats in two finals and a near-miss in the Premier League title race, leaving Chelsea empty-handed for the first time in four seasons.

With respected managers like Frank Rijkaard, Roberto Mancini and Guus Hiddink all linked with the Chelsea job already, Grant's time could be running out. A move back to a director of football role could be the best he can expect.

Grant may not be the only high-profile departure.

Didier Drogba has spent much of the season agitating for a move and, with AC Milan and Inter Milan among his suitors, the Ivorian's needless red card in Moscow could be his final contribution to the club.

Drogba has two years remaining on his contract and Chelsea would be reluctant to sell him to an English rival, but it would be no surprise if a move to Serie A or La Liga was deemed the perfect solution for both parties.

Frank Lampard has been linked with a move to Inter as well but the England midfielder insists his heart remains in west London.

“My contract has obviously been the last thing on my mind in the last six weeks, but I will sit down and talk with them after the England games,” he said.

“I hope we can come to a conclusion. I am pretty confident we can. I have said that many times before.”

If Lampard stays, there could still be exits for fringe players like midfielder Steve Sidwell and striker Claudio Pizarro.

England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips could also ask to leave after being reduced to a bit-part role in the second half of the season. Andriy Shevchenko would also jump at the chance to return to AC Milan after a torrid two years.

Florent Malouda is another who has struggled to adapt after a big money move and the French winger could be used as makeweight in Chelsea's transfer market wheeling and dealing.

Portugal right-back Jose Bosingwa, 25, has already been signed from Porto for 16 million pounds and that will be just the start of the spending.

Rebuilding the squad but money is no object for Abramovich if he feels the man in charge will spend it in accordance with his vision.

AC Milan playmaker Kaka and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi are just two of the big names already linked with the club, while Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov would jump at the chance to move across London.

Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz is another striker who would fit Chelsea's attacking ambitions after a superb debut season at Ewood Park.

Regardless of who eventually ends up in a Blue shirt in August, Chelsea's ceaseless pursuit of success guarantees another eventful close-season at the Bridge.


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14 years ago

i believe that Grant has really tried for chelsea this season and he deserves alot of one believe he could go this far with chelsea.i think alot pple are anticipating for his removal,of which iam not against cos all we need now is a better manager that can win trophies.kudos to john terry,he did great n we are proud of him.drogba should please learn 2 control his temper next time.thanks

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