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By ESPN Staff
Apr 10, 2008

Chelsea chairman Buck cagey over Grant future

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck refused to give fans a direct answer over the future of coach Avram Grant when he appeared as a special guest at one of their 'Star on a Stool' evenings last night.

Buck fielded questions from supporters along with former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo but he refused to give fans a straight answer when quizzed over whether Grant would remain in charge next season.

Grant has a four-year contract at Stamford Bridge but his future is at the centre of constant speculation even though the club insist there are no plans to remove him.

The Israeli coach has guided Chelsea to the semi-final of the Champions League and to within three points of Manchester United at the top of the Barclays Premier but when asked directly if Grant would be Chelsea's boss next season, Buck replied: 'I think it is a yes or no question and I am not going to give you a yes or no answer.

'But let me give a perspective on it. In September, when Jose left and Avram came on board, I think the board and Roman Abramovich did not expect that we would be sitting here as a semi-finalist in the Champions League and three points off the top of the Premier League.

'We thought that when you change managers, you have to have some re-building. So we are unbelievably happy that we are here, where we are now.

'We would have wished that we would have beaten Barnsley and Tottenham and whatever, but I think we are reasonably happy with where we are now.

'Avram has a multi-year contract and he's our manager. Having said that, and don't take this the wrong way, every manager, at every club, is judged by results. That's the name of the game, results, and right now Avram's results are very, very good, so he's our manager.

'I was annoyed during the Arsenal match when some people in the North Stand were singing 'You don't know what you're doing' and Jose's name. My perspective is, you're either a Chelsea fan or you're not, and in the middle of what was one of the most important games of the season, I don't think you do something which could theoretically unsettle your team.

'To me that doesn't make sense and to me that's not a Chelsea fan. So Avram has also had to deal with that kind of thing, which I personally thought was inappropriate.'

Buck also revealed that the club's billionaire owner did not expect Grant to turn Chelsea into entertainers overnight and the Chelsea chairman also dismissed suggestions that the Russian was `ranting and raving' in the dressing room after their FA and Carling Cup defeats.

'I don't think his reaction was any different from my reaction, I mean I was very disappointed, I was sad, I was unhappy,' said Buck. 'But I think there are a lot of stories that Roman called crisis meetings and was very upset and ranting and raving in the dressing room, that's total rubbish, it was all untrue. He was unhappy like all Chelsea fans were unhappy.

'I don't think that Roman or the board or anyone that is involved thought that the style of football would change over night.

'You're a footballer and I think you know that just doesn't happen, players have a certain approach and attitude ingrained in them and it's very difficult for them to change.

'But, having said that, during the course of the last nine months I think we have seen some examples of stylish, entertaining, fun football and would expect to see more of that as time progresses. We never thought this was going to be an overnight change.'

But Buck is convinced it is Chelsea's year to win the Champions League and says their home advantage in the second leg of the semi-final against Liverpool will be key.

'I think it is much different that Chelsea's second leg against Liverpool is at home and I think we are going to do it this time,' added Buck. 'I think if you look at last year when we had the home match, we should have maybe had four or five that night.

'We were fantastic. Then we went to Liverpool, and we played very well at Liverpool and then the penalty shoot-out. The previous year, as Jose told us, there was a phantom goal. But I think we are going to do it this year.'

Buck also backed Abramovich to continue his association with Chelsea in the coming years.

'He is committed to the long term,' said Buck. 'He bought the club, he loves the club, he's a Chelsea fan. He is here for the long term.

'He has put a lot of money into the club and I guess I would say no matter how rich you are, no matter how much money you have, you will notice when you invest £500 million into something. So it is not like something he will walk away from and say he is not interested anymore.'