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Desailly tips Chelsea for double

By David Ornstein


Former Chelsea and France captain Marcel Desailly
Desailly won the league and European double with AC Milan in 1994

Marcel Desailly believes Chelsea could lift both the Premier League and Champions League trophies this season.

The Blues face Liverpool on Wednesday for a place in the Champions League final and they trail Manchester United in the league by goal difference alone.

"It is clear Chelsea feel that this is their moment," Desailly told BBC Sport. "You can see the spirit is there, and they might just do it."

Desailly also insists Avram Grant is the right man to lead the club forward.

Grant replaced Jose Mourinho as Chelsea manager in September 2007, less than three months after joining the club as director of football.

Mourinho led the Stamford Bridge outfit to successive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, and guided them to two Champions League semi-finals.

Many Chelsea supporters reacted angrily to Grant's appointment and, having repeatedly sung Mourinho's name in the early days of the Israeli's reign, sections of the crowd chanted "you don't know what you're doing" during the 2-1 victory over Arsenal in March.

You can see that slowly Grant has put his own style on the team

Marcel Desailly

Grant arrived at Chelsea having never previously managed in a major European league.

But he now stands 90 minutes from taking Chelsea to their first ever final in Europe's elite club competition, while the Premier League title is still alive with two matches still to play.

And Desailly, the former France and Chelsea captain who made more than 200 appearances for the club between 1998 and 2004, insists owner Roman Abramovic was right to hand Grant the job.

"For sure," said Desailly when asked if Grant was the best manager for Chelsea. "Abramovich is clever, he knows the people to appoint in his companies and especially in his own team (Chelsea).

"He knew that maybe it was time to change Mourinho and he replaced him with a guy who perhaps did not have the same quality as Mourinho but has other qualities.

"You can see that slowly Grant has put his own style on the team, the players have adapted to him and things are going well.

"They have made a few mistakes - against Tottenham in the Carling Cup final, against Wigan in the league - but in the Champions League they have kept a good rhythm to reach another semi-final.

606: DEBATE

"Mourinho never did better than that and that's why you have to give Grant consideration and then freedom next year to work in better conditions with no polemic around him."

Desailly won the Champions League with Marseilles in 1993 and AC Milan a year later, not to mention the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship with France.

The 39-year-old believes Chelsea must win the Champions League this season to bridge the "gap between the image they give worldwide and what they have achieved in terms of trophies".

In 2005 and 2007 Liverpool knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League at the same semi-final stage. while they were eliminated in the first knock-out round by Barcelona in 2006.

Compared to previous years, Chelsea have a better chance to succeed this time

Marcel Desailly
But following Dirk Kuyt's opener in last week's semi-final first leg at Anfield, John Arne Riise put through his own net deep into stoppage time to gift Chelsea a priceless away goal.

Liverpool must now score at Stamford Bridge, something they have done on just one occasion in their last nine visits and never under Rafael Benitez, to prevent Chelsea reaching May's final in Moscow.

Also fuelling Desailly's belief that Chelsea can complete a league and European double is Saturday's morale-boosting 2-1 win at home to United.

"It is clear that after what happened at Liverpool and against Manchester United, Chelsea feel that this is their moment," added the Frenchman.

"They have the confidence that any team would like to have. The experience that Liverpool have at this stage of the Champions League is huge but, compared to previous years, Chelsea have a better chance to succeed this time.

"I want them to do the double. I did it in 1994 with AC Milan and it is something amazing."




see also
Reds 'can halt jinx at Chelsea'
23 Apr 08 |  Europe
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe


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