Grant sacked as Chelsea coach

Avram Grant has been sacked as manager of Chelsea after less than one season in charge, the English Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Grant's future was the focus of fierce speculation almost from the time he inherited the Stamford Bridge reins from Jose Mourinho eight months ago. And just three days after his side came off second best in a penalty shoot-out to Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final in Moscow, the Israeli's tenure is now at an end.

Names in the frame to succeed the Israeli include Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard, Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini and Russia's Dutch boss Guus Hiddink.

Despite the constant questioning of his position Grant, a close friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, had been credited with leading the club to their first ever Champions League final. He also oversaw their late surge for the league title, taking United down to the final day of the season before they were forced to settle for second place.

The club announced the sacking in a statement on their official website. "Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Avram Grant has had his contract as manager terminated today (Saturday)," the statement read.

"This follows meetings over the last two days. Everybody at Chelsea FC would like to thank Avram for his contribution since taking over as manager last September.

"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."

The futures of Chelsea assistants Steve Clarke and Henk Ten Cate are unclear, but no official word has yet been given on their positions. Reports in the British press suggest Grant may return to a job upstairs at Stamford Bridge as director of football, a post he held under Mourinho before he was plucked from relative obscurity to occupy one of the hottest seats in football.

Obscure beginnings
Grant's Chelsea career started with his appointment as director of football in the summer of 2007 but he moved into the dugout in the aftermath of Mourinho's controversial departure after Chelsea's drab 1-1 draw with Norwegian side Rosenberg in the Champions League.

Grant was not afforded much of a honeymoon period in west London and fans soon made their disappointment at the Portuguese's exit - and some of Grant's tactical decisions - heard.

But he shrugged off the continued speculation and made what had seemed like a Manchester United coronation into a hard-fought battle for the league title, while also enjoying victory over Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

It was a feat the popular Mourinho failed to achieve in his own time with the Blues and the irony of that statistic was not lost on Grant, who jokingly made his own claims to the title of 'the special one'. But the laughter soon subsided with a draw against Bolton on the last day of the domestic season, coupled with a United win which handed Sir Alex Ferguson's men the trophy.

Defeat in Moscow - with captain John Terry and Nicolas Anelka, the keynote signing of the Grant era, missing spot-kicks - eventually proved to be his final act as Chelsea boss.