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Who is Avram Grant?

Filed: Thursday, 3rd June 2010
By: Staff Writer

Avram Grant was appointed as West Ham United's 13th full time manager earlier today. Join KUMB.com as we take a look back at his career to date...

Avram Grant's coaching career began just as many players were starting theirs - at the tender age of only 18, when he took a job teaching the youngsters at his home town club Hapoel Petah Tikva on a part-time basis back in 1972.

Having spent 14 years in the role he was eventually promoted to first team coach with Tikva, where he proved to be an immediate success. A Toto Cup win - the Israeli equivalent of the Carling Cup - saw the national press sit up and take note of the rising young star.

However Grant suffered the first of many of a series of last-gasp disappointments when he saw his Tikva team narrowly pipped to what would have been their first ever Israeli championship in 1991 - three days before they were beaten 3-1 in the Israeli State Cup final by Maccabi Haifa.

Having taken Tikva as far as he felt he could Grant made the bold move of leaving his home town club after nearly 20 years' service to join Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of Israel's largest clubs. The move proved to be instantly successful as Grant led Tel Aviv to the Israeli title for the first time since 1979, beating their closest rivals by a massive 13 points (and finishing runners-up in the Israeli Cup).

Grant's four-year spell at Tel Aviv proved to be a massive success, helped by the club being bankrolled by a wealthy group of businessmen under the MOFET banner. During this period he worked alongside some of the country's most famous footballers including strikers Eli Driks and the legendary Avi Nimni, the club's greatest ever goalscorer.

The league success the year before sent Tel Aviv into the freshly-introduced Champions League for the first time in their history in 1992/93. Having beaten Maltese champions FA Valetta in the first knockout phase they were ousted from the competition by Club Brugge 4-0 on aggregate - a decent performance against a side literally leagues above them. It was to be some years before Grant was to eventually make his mark on the competition.

Further success followed at Tel Aviv where Grant helped the club take the State Cup in 1993/94 and then the league title for the second time. However a second crack at the Champions League would have to wait as Grant accepted a job offer from Hapoel Haifa - a job which he was to remain in for less than a year before returning to Tel Aviv.

Introuduced to Haifa by notorious businessman Ruby Shapira, it was a move destined to failure. A club on the up and looking for their first elusive championship, Haifa - who included a young Eyal Berkovic - weren't prepared to give the new man time to settle and after a difficult season in which they finished fourth, Grant was on the road again.

A further four years with Tel Aviv followed although the manager failed to repeat the success of his earlier spell at the club, managing just a single Toto Cup win in 1988/99. A second stab at the Champions League in 1996/97 saw the club fail to make it past the final qualification round, going out this time - albeit narrowly - to Fenerbache.

With his job made tougher by the fact that his predecessor had left having won the double, something that Grant was unable to emulate, the club's supporters began to grow increasingly frustrated and were partly responsible for his second exit from Tel Aviv in 2000. With the club having gone from a Championship-winning side to a mid-table club, not many Tel Aviv fans were sad to see the back of the manager this time around.

Undeterred by the first major setback of his managerial career, Grant took the vacant post at Maccabi Haifa - where his two years proved to be an unprecedented success. Two successive league titles instantly followed - as did another Toto Cup win (in 2002).

His next sojourn into European competition saw Grant take Haifa into the first round proper of the UEFA Cup (beaten 4-2 on aggregate by VItesse) and also the Champions League where they became the first Israeli club to reach the competition's group stages in 2002/03 - but only after they had been kicked out of the competition the year before for fielding an ineligible player (Walid Badir) against Haka of Finland, who they had beaten 5-0 on aggregate.

Placed alongside Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos and Manchester United in 02/03, the Israeli's were given little chance of progressing. However stunning home wins over Olympiakos and Manchester United (both 3-0) - combined with a draw in Greece - saw Haifa finish a respectable third in the group which saw them through to the UEFA Cup - where they were hammered 8-1 on aggregate by Athens in the third round.

Impressed by the way he had turned around Maccabi Haifa's fortunes, the Israeli FA offered Grant the opportunity to succeed the outgoing Richard Moller Nielsen in 2002. Having become his nation's youngest-ever coach at the age of 45, Grant's side fared well in the 2004 European Championships qualifiers, finishing third behind France and Slovakia.

Two years later they went one better and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2006 World Cup Finals, finishing third in their qualifying group behind France and Switzerland (on goal difference) - despite going through the entire qualifying campaign undefeated (four wins and six draws).

After three years in the post Grant announced that he would be leaving his position at the end of his four-year contract in 2006, shortly before confirming that he would be moving to England to take up the post of Director of Football with Premier League Portsmouth. During his spell on the South Coast he worked alongside former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp before a shock move by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, a personal friend of Grant's, saw the Israeli land the post of successor to the hugely-popular Jose Mourinho.

The move thrust the previously unknown Grant into the public spotlight. The first Israeli to manage in the Premier League, Grant took to his new role like a natural - although it took some time to placate Chelsea fans disappointed at the departure of Mourinho (anti-Semitic hate mail received during this period is thought to have been the responsibility of Blues supporters). Criticism aimed at Grant suggested that he was lacking in relevant experience, or that his tactical philosophy centred on the defensive and unadventurous.

Undaunted, Grant led his new club to an opening day defeat against Man Utd before taking the team on a 16-game unbeaten run. Just three months into his spell at Stamford Bridge he was offered a four-year deal by Abramovich, which he promptly signed.

He further made his mark on the side by signing players such as Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic in the January transfer window before leading the club to a Carling Cup Final defeat against Tottenham and a memorable penalty shootout defeat in the Champions League Final aganst Manchester United. He remains the only Chelsea manager to take the team to the final of Europe's premier club competition.

A third runners-up spot was confirmed when Chelsea finished second to Manchester United in the Premier League. But only three days after the Champions League final, Chelsea confirmed via their website that they had terminated the manager's contract, with Grant having refused the offer of a Director of Football role at the club. He left having not lost a single home game during his tenure.

After a year or so out of the game - his longest spell out of work since entering the sport as a youth coach at the tender age of 18 - Grant was hired by crisis club Portsmouth in November 2009 to replace the outgoing Paul Hart. Although he failed to save Pompey's Premier League status he somehow managed to lead a team of cast-offs and second-rate players to the FA Cup final, having memorably beaten Tottenham in the semi-final.

Six months later he resigned from his post at Portsmouth, calling the decision to leave 'the hardest he has ever had to make'. Rumours that he was on his way to West Ham were rife, but it took another fortnight before his arrival in east London was finally confirmed.

Avram Grant: Managerial Career

19861991 Hapoel Petah Tikva
Israeli Championship: Runners-Up 1990/91; Toto Cup: Winners 1990, 1991.

19911995 & 1996-2000 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israeli Championship: Winners 1991/92, 1994/95; State Cup: Winners 1993/94; Toto Cup: Winners 1992/93, 1998/99.

19951996 Hapoel Haifa
No honours.

20002002 Maccabi Haifa
Israeli Championship: Winners 2000/01, 2001/02; Toto Cup: Winners 2002.

20022006 Israel
No honours.

20072008 Chelsea
Champions League: Runners-Up 2007/08; Premier League: Runners-Up 2007/08; Carling Cup: Runners-Up 2007/08.

20092010 Portsmouth
FA Cup: Runners-Up 2009/10.

2010- West Ham United
No honours (yet).

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Bumpyfunk
02:51PM 3rd Jun 2010
''One Mr. Nice guy for another? Not sure this is a good move at all...''

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