Few managers have been one kick away from securing the Champions League final before being fired, but if any one act was symbolic of the reputation of Avram Grant, it was arguably that.
Football is a fickle business, but in Grant, it seemed incapable of quite appreciating his worth. He arrived with no reputation, and despite turning around a season which was threatening to unravel.
However, he left with precious little fanfare, barely a whimper, and even now is afforded little more than an aside in the recent history of Chelsea FC, despite hindsight showing that his successor Luis Felipe Scolari fared much worse.
And now he is at Portsmouth, in a world of broken promises and appearing only a day away from the apocalypse, and in amongst the darkness he has managed to lead them onwards towards the potential light of a Cup final.
It is a remarkable story, and one which is a credit to Portsmouth players, and in particular their manager.
If Paul Hart was doing a remarkable job at Portsmouth during the beginning of the season, the job that Grant is doing is nigh on miraculous.
Few managers can have conducted themselves against such a backdrop, and endured such an emotional roller coaster, and Grant’s tears at the full-time whistle gave a glimpse of the kind of emotion, which such a predicament engenders.
Yet amazingly, despite appearing all but doomed in the league, were it not for the impending penalty of administration—Portsmouth could conceivably have been the form horses of the relegation battle—being only four points away from Burnley at the bottom.
While Saturday’s victory over Birmingham proves the romance of the Cup still stirs at Fratton Park, and a Cup semi-final was resoundingly greeted by the home faithful. Should they reach the final, it would be a fairytale story amidst a virtual Hades of a season.
And if Portsmouth do make it, no one would deserve the respect more than Grant. Former players, managers and colleagues speak highly of the man, yet English football affords him precious little respect.
He is a man who deserves more than he receives, and in the circumstances he is currently working in, has continued to work with a level of respect and honesty which is admirable.
Should Portsmouth’s fairytale run end up in Cup success, few would deserve it more than their fans.
But for Avram Grant, it may finally mean he receives that respect which English football has long owed him.
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