CHELSEA are chilling out under Avram Grant.
That’s the view of former player Mario Melchiot, who was in the Wigan side beaten 2-1 by the Blues in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Dutch defender Melchiot, a cup winner with Chelsea in 2000, believes that under Grant’s predecessor Jose Mourinho, the club became something of a soccer circus.
“When I look at the situation and all the things that went on around Jose Mourinho, it was a bit crazy,” he said.
“That’s why it didn’t surprise me that the people who took over tried to calm things down and work away from the spotlight.
“That will have helped the players because it’s probably more relaxed around the club and they can concentrate on playing their football.
“They started slowly under Avram Grant, but things have turned around.”
To many, it was a case of Avram Who? when the Israeli who aims to knock Town out of the FA Cup on Saturday took over the hot seat in the wake of Mourinho’s departure in September.
The majority of the 52-year-olds’ career in coaching and management has been in his home country, where he won a number of league titles and cups with different teams and also managed the national side from 2002 until 2006.
That’s when he moved to England to become technical director at Portsmouth following the takeover at Fratton Park by another Israeli, Arkady Gaydamak.
He soon developed a good working relationship with manager Harry Redknapp, despite speculation that his arrival could unsettle the set-up on the South coast.
He was recruited by Chelsea, whose owner Roman Abramovich is a personal friend, as director of football in July 2007.
Two months later, he was manager, upsetting many supporters who claimed he lacked the necessary experience.
Grant, who retained Chelsea stalwart Steve Clarke as assistant boss and has also recruited Henk ten Cate, a former Barcelona coach, faced a tough first game in charge only three days after taking up the role, losing 2–0 to Manchester United.
But in his first Champions league match he led Chelsea to a 2–1 away win over Valencia, replicating one of Mourinho's most celebrated wins.
Chelsea went on to register a 16-game unbeaten run, including a 6-0 rout of Manchester City, and Grant signed a four-year contract.
The 1-0 Premier League derby defeat at Arsenal on December 16 remains the only other loss under his management.
Last month, Grant made his first signings as Chelsea manager, spending £24m on French striker Nicolas Anelka from Bolton and versatile Serbian Branislav Ivanovic from Lokomotiv Moscow.
He also recruited 18-year-old Argentinian striker Franco Di Santo from Chilean football.