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Grant on... Everton

Filed: Tuesday, 28th December 2010
By: Staff Writer

Avram Grant reflects on a hard-fought draw against Everton - and looks ahead to the January transfer window...

Avram: not many chances tonight, was a draw a fair result?

First I want to say that it's a sad day for me. One of my friends, Avi Cohen - who played for Liverpool, Rangers and captained the Israeli national team - passed away this week in tragic circumstances, a car accident. I want to give my sympathy to his wife Dorit, his son Tamir who is playing for Bolton and all his family. It's very sad; he was a great man, a great person who was always very lively and with a smile on his face. For me it's very sad.

About the game today; I think that in the first half we were on top of them. We scored a goal, we could have scored more, we passed the ball very well but in one of our best moments they scored a goal. We always think that it's our mistake. In the second half we had a big chance to win the game from Coley who didn't do it.

But the most important thing of all [is that] I'm very, very pleased with the boys and their effort. It's not easy to play two games in 48 hours, this is the only country that plays two games in 48 hours [during the] Christmas period. I like it; when I was a child I came to see the games, now I'm really, really pleased to be part of it.

But I think they need to think about equal chances because if you're involved in sport - it doesn't matter what, basketball, athletics - you know that to play two games in 48 hours is difficult, but it's okay if both teams have equal chances.

When one team needs to play and the other comes fresh it's a big advantage, so I think they need to think about this because as you can see with our players, at first we needed to change the team - put players who played well on Sunday on the bench or not play at all. Becuase of this I'm very pleased with their efforts, everybody gave 100 per cent.

Is that why Carlton [Cole] was on the bench?

Yes, because he played fantastic at Craven Cottage and gave fantastic effort. When I picked the team in this situation, also speaking with the [sports] science and medical people for their advice, we knew that because of his history it could cause him damage - so he was on the bench.

Four points from two games over Christmas; is that as good as you expected? Are you happy with that?

I think yes, it's good. You know, you always expect more but to win at Fulham; Fulham is a difficult [place] to win [at], they got a good result today and they're a good team. Blackburn won today and we drew with them.

I think the most important [thing] is that we close the gap between good games two points because we've played many games [where we were] better than the other team but didn't take points. Now I think we are more efficient, even though we didn't win today. But I think that, if you think about the circumstances, it was a good point and a good effort from the guys.

Saturday's game [against Wolves] perhaps more important than today's?

I think it's very important but you, the media, [have been] asking me this question for three or four months! My target is for you to continue to ask me this question [as] it means we are in a place where we can be safe - and this is our target. I think that we are on the right track, in the last three games we've seen a lot of improvement by taking points. It's good, but we need to win [on] Saturday against a team that are a very good team.

I don't think that there are any weak teams in this league. It is maybe the first year that there's not even one weak team. We play against Wolves and I think they owe us something because we scored a goal against them that was disallowed in the last minute.

Having gone in front tonight were you disappointed at the way the equaliser came? The defending?

Always when you concede a goal you think you could do better, you know. In every goal for every team you can defend better, but I think it was a little bit... It was a few minutes after Ilunga - who played well today after a long time injured - [was substituted] and it was maybe a little bit of confusion. I think the defence have been doing a very good job in the last [few] games.

Come January, players like Piquionne, Obinna, Parker and Upson may leave. Do you know if the owners want to sell them to bring money in?

Look - come January there are the January stories. At the beginning of the season there were a lot of stories for the next few weeks - not even one of them was true, from our point of view.

So they'll all be staying?

Yes. Unless someone will offer around 25million for Piquionne, then we'll think about it. I'm not sure we will do it, but we'll think about it...

Can you clarify about Carlton Cole - was he just too tired to play tonight, or was he injured?

No, he wasn't injured - but we want to avoid injury because we know that it's difficult for him to play two games in 48 hours. Also we ask the players; four or five players didn't play today because of this and I hope we haven't picked up one more injury with Freddie Piquionne.

Carlton wanted to play but you just rested him?

All the players want to play all the time, do you see any players that don't want to play?

One thing nobody can take from you - Robert Green. Under your management you have brought his confidence back?

I think he started the league [campaign] not so good. I told Robert that [in] every press conference at the beginning of the season 20 minutes was about him - and not because he's very handsome! Now I say 'because you are playing well, nobody asks me about you'.

If you remember, all the games at the beginning of the season you were critical of him - and I understand it because it was after the World Cup. But I say it again - sport is good because you can always answer on the pitch. In the last two months you've not asked even one question about him; it means that he's doing his job on the pitch. It's good.

Is Saturday possibly one of the biggest games in your managerial career?

I don't think like this, all games are big games. If you remember, three months ago you were saying 'this is a big game, this is a big game'... As long as we are in a place where we can say it's a big game. The game against Wolves will be a big game as will the game against Newcastle. But I think that when we are playing at home and have the momentum, even though they are good teams our target is to win the game.

The fact that Wolves are so close to you; the outcome, if they win, means they go further ahead of you and it could be quite difficult to come back?

You know, I was speaking with the players [and asking them] to think positively and not think what happens if not. Wolves would be three points behind us if the referee's decision at Wolves was good - it was one of our best games, at Wolves. So we want to win.

Have you had assurances from the owners that you will have money to spend to strengthen your squad in January?

I don't need to tell you that we have 100million of debt - it's not small money and they are trying to do everything to stabalise the situation. But even with this, they know that we need to make the team stronger. For example, today we didn't have one midfield player on the bench. It's not easy. They know that we have a lot of long-term injured players and that we need to make the team stronger as we are facing a lot of games now.

I think the squad needs to be bigger and stronger. Even when everybody is fit I saw that we needed one player, maybe two - but now I think we need more. They know that, they are trying their best to find a financial solution for this.

Is there one name you can think of?

Of course I will not speak about names while we are checking everything. We analyse our situation all the time with the various injured players. But it's not a secret that one of our targets is Steve Sidwell - we are hoping to complete the transfer this week.

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by g portugal
10:02PM 29th Dec 2010
''Wolves' win at Anfield is more proof that Grant must go. We went to Anfield and rolled over. Wolves fought like they want to remain in this league despite missing key players. That tells you all you need to know about man management at the respective clubs. Also about a few primadonnas that must go.''

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