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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 11:13 UK

Le Saux praise for Grant's reign

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Avram Grant falls to his knees after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge
Avram Grant has guided Chelsea to the brink of history

Former Chelsea star Graeme Le Saux has praised Avram Grant for ignoring pressure on his own position to keep his side in the hunt for two trophies.

He has guided Chelsea to the Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow on 21 May and they could still snatch the Premier League.

Le Saux told BBC Sport: "To see people still talking about Avram's position at this stage of the season is unfair.

"Fortunately players and managers can separate out different issues."

Grant is confident he will still be at Chelsea next season, despite on-going speculation about his job - and they go to Newcastle on Monday still in the hunt for the Barclays Premier League title.

Le Saux said: "There is speculation about his tenure, but he will tell players to forget about that because it doesn't affect the players or what they are trying to do.

"The players will simply be focusing on what they want to achieve with the guidance of the manager, whoever that is. When you are training and then playing matches, you are totally absorbed in that, and that applies to managers and coaches as well.

"You saw a great example of this with Frank Lampard, who was going through personal tragedy after the death of his mother but was still able to focus and score that vital penalty against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. He wasn't just professional and focused, he excelled."

The uncertainty that Avram has had in terms of the teams he can pick has made it more difficult for him

Former Chelsea star Graeme Le Saux

And Le Saux believes Chelsea should now exert their whole concentration on winning their final two league games and the Champions League final.

He said: "They have to say 'let's get through this opportunity and not let anything spoil it' - and then in the close season hopefully things will become clearer.

"Ultimately it is a decision for the Chelsea hierarchy. They have got to decide what they want in the short, medium and long term and you have to hope the decisions that are made are with the right sort of principles.

"But when you study their recent results, you have to say Avram has got them when it mattered."

Le Saux believes Grant's hand has been strengthened by the return to form and fitness of key personnel.

He said: "Didier Drogba has been exceptional recently. Petr Cech has had a difficult season with injuries but he is an awesome goalkeeper and he proved it with vital saves in the two legs against Liverpool.

"I'm a big fan of Carlo Cudicini but I have to say Petr is on another level. The uncertainty that Avram has had in terms of the teams he can pick has made it more difficult for him."


see also
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
Newcastle v Chelsea
02 May 08 |  Premier League
Grant confident his job is safe
02 May 08 |  Chelsea


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