Chelsea sack manager Grant after 8 months
LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea sacked manager Avram Grant on Saturday, three days after his team were beaten on penalties in the Champions League final by Manchester United.
"Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Avram Grant has had his contract as manager terminated today. This follows meetings over the last two days," the Premier League club said in an official statement on its Web site (www.chelseafc.com).
"Everybody at Chelsea FC would like to thank Avram for his contribution since taking over as manager last September.
It added: "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."
Among those linked with the job have been Frank Rijkaard, who has left Barcelona, and Roberto Mancini, who has just coached Inter Milan to the Serie A title in Italy.
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose future at Manchester City is uncertain, has also been mentioned in the past with a possible move to Stamford Bridge as has Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who is in charge of the Russia team.
British bookmakers William Hill make Hiddink 11/4 favourite to succeed Grant at Stamford Bridge while Dutch compatriot Rijkaard leads the betting odds at 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
The 53-year-old Grant, a close personal friend of Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, took charge of team affairs in September after Jose Mourinho left the club.
The Israeli has now followed Mourinho out of the Stamford Bridge exit door after his side finished as runners-up to Manchester United in the Premier League and also lost in the League Cup final to Tottenham Hotspur in February.
It also comes as no surprise with his future in doubt almost from the time he took over as coach from Mourinho in September.
But Chelsea lost only five matches under Grant and reached the Champions League final for the first time, an achievement that was beyond Mourinho during his three seasons in charge.
They also went into the final league match of the season level on points with Manchester United and could have won the title if they had bettered United's result on the final day.
In the event Alex Ferguson's side beat Wigan Athletic and Chelsea could only draw with Bolton Wanderers meaning the Old Trafford club won the title by two clear points.
Grant failed to win over the majority of the Chelsea fans who berated some of his substitutions and tactical decisions.
His fate appeared to be sealed after Wednesday's defeat in Moscow by United when Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said their record this season had not been good enough.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
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