Grant v Ancelotti
Skysports.com looks at the strengths and weaknesses of Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti.
Last Updated: 14/05/10 11:28am
Key to deciding Saturday's FA Cup final could be who wins the battle of the dugouts. Avram Grant has made no secret of a lingering bitterness he holds towards Chelsea for the manner in which he was treated at Stamford Bridge. There is no doubt he would consider masterminding a win over his former employers as being the pinnacle of his career. In the semi-final against Tottenham his side were impressive in employing an expansive counter-attacking style and it is likely similar tactics will be used again at the weekend. In the opposite dugout Ancelotti is on the brink of delivering an historic double, with his first season in charge at Chelsea seeing him exorcise the spectre of Jose Mourinho in some style. Here, skysports.com looks at the respective strengths and weaknesses of both men.
Ancelotti's CV is undoubtedly one of the best in the game. An eight-year spell at AC Milan saw him collect one Serie A title, one Italian Super Cup, one Coppa Italia and two UEFA Champions League winners' medals. He won the Community Shield a month after his appointment as Chelsea boss and is now on the brink of securing an historic double, having won the club their first Premier League title since 2006. The Italian's winning pedigree saw him collect a host of domestic and European honours during his playing career at the San Siro too.
Grant failed to bring home any major silverware during his eight-month period at Stamford Bridge, mainly thanks to a Champions League final defeat to Manchester United in 2008. Before coming to England, the 55-year-old won back-to-back titles with Maccabi Haifa in his homeland of Israel. He also had success with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Ancelotti has succeeded where Grant, and his successor Luiz Felipe Scolari, failed at Stamford Bridge, in wrestling the title back off Manchester United. The Italian has developed a unity and relationship with his players that is on a level that has not been seen since Mourinho's time in West London. Tactically astute, the 50-year-old has instilled a discipline within his squad similar to that adopted by Fabio Capello in the England camp. He has also scored highly in allowing his side to express themselves freely; in the process banishing previous more cautious regimes to history.
Quite how Grant has steered Pompey to Wembley with the club's myriad of off-field distractions this season is incomprehensible. The South Coast club have been forced to sell some of their key players due to their dire financial state, meaning that the likes of Marc Wilson, Aaron Mokoena and Hayden Mullins have had to spend most of the season playing out of position. Grant has developed a backs-to-the-wall team spirit that was most evident during their semi-final win over big-spending Tottenham. He has also got the best out of loanee Jamie O'Hara, who before this season had struggled for regular playing time.
Ancelotti's steadfast refusal to return to the 4-3-3 formation which predecessor Guus Hiddink installed last season cost Chelsea early points. While his big-game temperament cannot be questioned - the Blues' have a flawless record against their 'big four' rivals this term - this year's Champions League exit to Inter Milan will linger in the back of his mind. He has also failed to clear the doubts over Chelsea's inability to deal with set-pieces and their lack of ability to kill off tight games could come back to haunt him.
While Grant has done the best he can with meagre resources at Fratton Park, he has been unable to stop his defence conceding at a worrying rate this season. While few in the game would have a harsh word for the likeable Israeli, his quiet demeanour has led to accusations he lacks an authoritative edge to handle the world's best players. At Chelsea he struggled to match his predecessor in the star quality and charisma stakes and was dismissed after less than a year in charge, despite largely drawing praise for his short stint at the helm.