Avram Grant photos collect in comment 2009

He won’t have heard of him, but Avram Grant - or Average Grant, as his players call him - is earning a reputation as the footballing equivalent of cricket’s Graeme Hick. A flat-track bully. Under Grant’s minimalist management, Chelsea routinely make short work of the likes of Derby [6-1], West Ham [4-0] and Manchester City [6-0], but fall short in the big games, such as the Carling Cup final, where they lost to Spurs, and in top-of-the-table combat with Arsenal [0-1] and Manchester United [0-2].

In the Premier League, Chelsea are unbeaten in 13 matches since their defeat at the Emirates on December 16, and dogged tenacity has brought them back into the title race after they had seemed to be out of it three weeks ago. Grant, however, needs to start winning the big ones, beginning at home to Arsenal this afternoon, if his team are to overhaul the top two, and if he is not forever to be compared unfavourably with his chalk-and-cheese predecessor, Jose Mourinho.

In the second half of the season the feeling has grown that Grant’s management is as dour and uninspiring as his lugubrious mien, and that he says so little because he has so little to say. The CV he brought to the job was modest, at best, and the players were unimpressed and in show-us-your-medals mode from day one. Grant’s behaviour at the Carling Cup final, when he made no attempt to rally Chelsea before extra time, shocked his employers and disappointed all concerned. His team selection and substitutions that day, and throughout the season, have been in stark contrast to Mourinho’s clever rotation and habit of transforming games with radical changes of personnel.