Terry insists players are fully behind Grant

April 21, 2008

Captain John Terry insists the Chelsea players are firmly behind coach Avram Grant as the Blues prepare for the biggest 10 days of their chequered season.

Grant faces Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Anfield tomorrow night hoping to take the first step towards erasing the memory of two previous defeats at the same stage of the competition in the last three years.

While Liverpool's preparation has been hounded by problems off the field, Grant's build-up has been blighted by suggestions that many of his squad will quit Stamford Bridge in the summer if the Israeli remains in charge.

Chelsea's season will be defined by two legs against Liverpool and a Premier League showdown with Manchester United sandwiched in between.

But the Chelsea captain was adamant that the spirit within the camp remains buoyant despite speculation that some of the squad were unhappy with Grant's managerial style.

'We are totally behind the manager,' confirmed Terry. 'It is bizarre because since Avram took over, one thing we've done is that if any players are unhappy or has a problem, we've all got together, as you need to do, and speak our minds.

'We speak openly and things are sorted out there and then within the space of 10 minutes.

'There are no people walking out the door and talking behind each other's backs.

'So all these suggestions are quite laughable actually. We get in a room, we talk and we solve the problems.

The last two semi-finals between the English clubs have been far from memorable in terms of attacking football.

The tactical strengths of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and Liverpool's Rafael Benitez tended to cancel each other out.

But Chelsea are promising to go into tomorrow's game with an attacking style.

'We are coming here to win the game, we are not coming here to shut up shop,' boasted Terry. 'We are coming here to score goals and put the pressure right on Liverpool.

'Liverpool are very good defensively and going forward, so it is going to be tough for us in both directions.

'But the away goals we can possibly take back to the Bridge will help us in the long run.

'We do mean business. All season long we've shown great strength in depth in the squad with the players who have come in and kept us alive in the Champions and Barclays Leagues.

'We have shown great character and togetherness but it is about what we do tomorrow night and not what Liverpool do. We have got the players to go on and win the game and progress to the next stage.

'We have lost to Liverpool on the two previous occasions and that burning feeling is something that will never go away, but one thing that will ease it is to go on and reach the final and lift the trophy.

'That trophy is something I want to get my hands on as Chelsea captain and for the club to go down in history.'

He continued: 'We have had our ups and downs over the course of the season, we've had players injured and not ready and for me that has shown in the character of the whole squad not just in the starting 11.

'We have proved that whatever team is on the pitch, we have enough strength, character and big players to go on and win.'

Coach Grant, slammed for his monosyllabic press conference after their victory over Everton in the league last week, was more talkative this time around.

Mourinho twice failed to overcome the Reds at this stage but Grant preferred to concentrate on making history by reaching the final for the first time, rather than dwelling on past failures.

'We can make history and we will concentrate on this and not about anything else,' said Grant. 'We lost here twice but that is history and now we can create it. That is what is important.

'We have come a long way since we drew against Rosenborg and now we can create history - and this makes me excited.

Grant is delighted to have Frank Lampard back in the squad after the England player spent much of the last week by his mother's hospital bedside.

Lampard's mother, Pat, is suffering from pneumonia and Grant was full of praise for the player's bravery.

'I respect very much Frank and what he is doing for the club,' said Grant. 'It is not an easy situation. He has given everything for the club and trained by himself.

'I gave him all the freedom to do as he wanted. Sometimes there are more important things than football but he is available to play.'