Grant seals return to Portsmouth

Avram Grant
Grant has kept a low profile since leaving Chelsea in 2008

Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant has returned to Portsmouth as their new director of football.

The 54-year-old Israeli was technical director at Fratton Park from June 2006 to July 2007, before leaving to become director of football at Chelsea.

He subsequently succeeded Jose Mourinho as manager at Stamford Bridge before being sacked in May 2008.

It is the first significant move at Portsmouth since Ali Al Faraj completed his 90% buy-out of the club this week.

“I am happy to return to the best league in the world, the English league,” Grant told Israeli sports website www.one.co.il.

Grant, who led Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, will work alongside Portsmouth manager Paul Hart as the club aim to climb off the bottom of the Premier League.

I love Avram – James

It is expected that Grant will work with Hart on player recruitment, and England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James said the move was a welcome step in the right direction for the club.

“I love Avram, he’s a great guy,” said James.

“When I first joined the club he was there and he was very active in preparation for matches. He’s a very wise man and his football knowledge is immense.

“It’s a very good move.”

Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie has already confirmed that money will be available in January to strengthen the side as a result of Saudi property tycoon Al Faraj’s takeover, following a tumultuous 42-day period under the ownership of Arab businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim.

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Matt Slater

Grant, who has kept a low profile since his sacking by Chelsea, has also managed the Israeli national side and achieved success in his homeland with both Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa.

He was just one kick away from delivering the Champions League trophy at Chelsea during his only season in charge, denied only by John Terry’s missed penalty.

His Chelsea side also lost out in the Carling Cup final that season, beaten 2-1 by Tottenham at Wembley, and finished runners-up to Manchester United in the Premier League.

Storrie welcomes Grant’s return to Pompey

The scale of Portsmouth’s financial problems were exposed last week when the club admitted that players had not received their pay in the build-up to Saturday’s 1-0 win at Wolves, their first league victory of the season.

“The non-pay issue was not good,” added James.

“The people who needed to get paid got paid but it was more the bigger picture. Now we’ve got our first win and our first clean sheet, it’s a much happier place.”

Pompey’s next game is on 17 October, when they entertain Tottenham, who lie third behind Chelsea and Manchester United.

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