Is Now Avram Grant's Time to Move to MLS?
Last year, after Portsmouth fired Avram Grant, the rumor mill began to churn that his next move would be to MLS, specifically New York. The former Israeli and Chelsea manager seemed like a good fit for an American club, having had much success in the Israeli league and needing a change of scenery after an ugly stint at Chelsea and relegation at Portsmouth. Instead, he stayed in the EPL and took a position with West Ham United.
Now, however, West Ham is buried at the bottom of the table and looks like a lock to be playing in the Championship next season. During today’s West Ham-Manchester City match Steve McManaman again brought up the idea of Avram Grant being the perfect manager for a league like MLS (which he described as a great up-and-coming league) and spoke of him easily finding another job if he were to be fired. So, assuming Avram Grant is fired before the end of the season (which is a distinct possibility), could he find a spot in MLS?
Despite only lasting a season at Chelsea, Grant had a successful tenure, leading the club to within a famous penalty miss of a Champions League title. His biggest problem was that he followed The Special One at Chelsea. His career in Israel at the club level was quite incredible, winning the Israeli Premier League as recently as 2002. And despite Pompey falling to the Championship, you can hardly hold that debacle entirely against him. He is still a quality coach, but his reputation in the EPL has taken a hit recently. So a change of scenery would be good for him, but in a larger league than Israel.
So, is MLS still a good fit in 2011? Assuming that no one else is fired between now and the beginning of the season, there are only two job openings: Chivas and Toronto. Chivas is in a major market and would allow Grant to compete with one of the league’s premiere teams and stars. But Toronto would be a better overall fit. The club is closer to competing for an MLS Cup than Chivas and has a solid infrastructure in place to maintain a successful franchise. Toronto also has a sizable Jewish population, if religion were a factor.
What counts against Toronto is both leadership and lack of leadership. The club recently hired Jurgen Klinsmann (the USSF White Whale) as a consultant, so I suspect he will have a major say over personnel and hires, such a major say that it might scare away someone who will want more control over the franchise. This plus the fact that Toronto has waited a long time to make a hire for both head coach and director of soccer, which would give any potential hire pause.
What do you think: will Avram Grant manage in MLS next season?