Reuters Soccer Blog
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Has it reached the stage where a Champions League semi-final is not enough to safeguard a coach’s job?
Avram Grant, whose Chelsea side visit Liverpool in their first leg on Tuesday, is under pressure despite his team stil having an outside chance of the Premier League title.
Boardroom squabbles mean Rafa Benitez is not 100 percent certain to be at Anfield next season while Barcelona’s Frank Rijkaard desperately needs a win against Manchester United on Wednesday to deflect attention from Primera Liga disappointment.
And what about poor Roberto Mancini? He is on the verge of leading Inter Milan to another scudettoand yet the papers are again full of talk that Jose Mourinho is San Siro-bound.
He broke records galore in seven years at AC Milan, but his two seasons at Chelsea have been utterly miserable. Injury has played a part in his fall from grace, but generally the 31-year-old has been too slow for the demands of English football and has lost his magic touch.
Cue Grand Slam Sunday — when Chelsea virtually ended Arsenal’s title hopes and Javier Mascherano left Liverpool with 10 men at Manchester United following a quite avoidable red card, clearing the champions’ path in their quest to retaining the title.
The draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League looks great, but there will have been a collective groan from anyone looking ahead to the semi-finals.
With the inevitability of doom, Liverpool and Chelsea are set to meet again in the last four — if they make it through the quarter-finals. Their two previous semi-final meetings were tense, certainly, but the quality of football was pretty dispiriting.
It’s true I had been up half the night worrying about our half-finished loft conversion during the worst gales of the winter but even so I should not have dropped off to sleep during Chelsea coach Avram Grant’s news conference this week.
Grant is under fire in the Press after Chelsea surrendered both the Cups they held with poor performances against Tottenham Hotspur last month and lower division Barnsley on Saturday.