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By ESPN Staff
May 24, 2008

Grant sacked as Chelsea manager

Chelsea have started their search for a new manager after sacking Avram Grant on Saturday.

Grant, who replaced Jose Mourinho last September, was expected to be removed from his post following Chelsea's failure to win a trophy for the first time in three seasons.

The 52-year-old Israeli found it hard to come to terms with being thrust into the spotlight and although he guided Chelsea into their first Champions League final, the penalty shoot-out defeat in Moscow last Wednesday paved the way for his departure.

After two days of meetings, Chelsea confirmed their decision in a statement.

It read: 'Chelsea can confirm that Avram Grant has had his contract as manager terminated today.

'This follows meetings over the last two days. Everybody at Chelsea FC would like to thank Avram for his contribution since taking over as manager last September.

'We will now be concentrating all our efforts on identifying a new manager for Chelsea and there will be no further comment until that appointment is made.' Grant joined the club last summer from Portsmouth to take up the post of director of football.'

Then manager Mourinho, whose relationship with the board was already fractious, was unhappy with the appointment.

Mourinho was later dismissed after their 1-1 draw with Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge in their opening Champions League game.

Grant, who had never managed a club in England, was asked to takeover and later given a four-year contract.

A close friend of the club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, Grant's brief reign was tainted by reports of anti-Semitic abuse but remarkably he equalled a nine-match winning run set by Mourinho's side two years earlier.

Grant brought in Henk ten Cate as his assistant as well as new fitness and goalkeeping staff.

But his appointment was never really accepted by the fans, who steadfastly refused to chant his name until the final game of the season, and his sour-faced demeanour did him few favours.

He was also criticised for being tactically inept but guided the club to the final of the Carling Cup in February only to lose 2-1 to Tottenham.

But remarkably, Chelsea pushed Manchester United to the wire in the race for the Premier League and earned a place in their first Champions League final against Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

But his entire spell in charge was littered with speculation that he was just a stop-gap appointment and that he would leave in the summer.

Chelsea consistently denied they had plans to change their manager but the deafening silence from the club's board after Wednesday's defeat by United, told its own story.

Both chief-executive Peter Kenyon and chairman Bruce Buck paved the way for change by insisting that Chelsea's performance this season was simply 'not good enough'.

Buck said: 'We have very high expectations at Chelsea and a couple of second place finishes is just not good enough for us - so although we never would have thought in September when Jose Mourinho left that we would be able to make it into a Champions League Final as we did - and that is fantastic - Chelsea are here to win trophies. So although it was an excellent season, we are still disappointed.'

A series of discussions finally resolved Grant's future and it is understood the Israeli said his farewells to the players on Friday - telling them it had been a 'privilege' to manage the team.

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