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Avram Grant’s so-called press conference


The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
When I saw the transcript of Avram Grant’s so-called press conference I wondered what all the fuss was about. That’s what he’s always like. Not for nothing does he always dress in black. Every Chelsea game I’ve covered this season, and for my sins there have been many, he shuffles into the room apologetically like a provincial undertaker steeling himself to ask a grieving family for payment. He sits behind a desk, flanked by the sinister press officer Simon Greenburg, crosses his arms defensively and then mumbles at the floor. The first time he did this, I just thought it was a strange mannerism and I waited, pen poised, for him to start speaking. It was only when I noticed the other journalists scribbling away that I realised he already had.

I know a number of writers who have given up even bothering with his press conferences. When you’ve got a limited amount of time to file your report, they say, why use 50 per cent of it waiting in vain for Grant to say something interesting? He never does. His trademark move is to sidestep questions, repeat buzzword-filled mantras and mumble everything so quietly and in such a rumbling monotone that when he says, “Is that all?” you can’t help but be relieved that it’s all over.

Personally, I’m quite fascinated by him. He is so dour, so defensive and so uncomfortable. I genuinely think that he was startled by the angry reaction to his appointment and, though he won’t ever mention him by name, I suspect that he often wonders how Jose Mourinho ever coped with the limelight. I would love to know what he’s like with the players in private, what he actually brings to the party. Given that John Terry had to do the extra-time team-talk at Wembley, it can’t be inspirational speeches.

His petulant treatment of the media is a professional suicide note. Justified or not, you can’t behave like that to the British media and expect to get away with it. Benitez’s outburst was tolerated becuase his motives were clear. It wasn’t an attack on the press, it was an attack on the American owners. It is difficult to find any motive for this latest stonewalling besides Grant’s personal quest for revenge. The press reaction to the draw against Wigan was savage and the most hurtful aspect must have been that it was led by the conservative broadsheet newspapers. Henry Winter, one of the most respected, intelligent journalists on the circuit, described Grant as ‘Mr Average’ and declared that Chelsea would never be a big club while he was in charge. That must have hurt.

Grant will now pursue his only salvation; the pair of trophies that could save his job. He will do it as he does everything; quietly, stubbornly and with the support of absolutely no-one. It’s funny; in a strange kind of way I’ll miss him when he goes.