How Avram's 10-man trick got Lampard and co in the mood for Liverpool clash
08 April 2009 01:08
Minutes remain before the most daunting fixture of the season and inside the Stamford Bridge dressing room Chelsea's players are asked to turn their attention to the tactics board one last time.
Avram Grant organises his magnets in the formation he wants his side to employ. The formation he tells them will finally conquer the Liverpool team that has become their nemesis in the Champions League.
But there's a problem and Michael Ballack is the first to notice. 'Boss,' he cries, 'are we only playing with 10 men?!'
'I'm glad to see someone is paying attention!' replies Grant before everyone collapses with laughter.
For Chelsea's then manager it was mission accomplished. A very deliberate ploy to suck all that tension out of the room. 'After losing to Liverpool in Europe for the previous years it was not just a tactical battle but a psychological one,' recalled Grant yesterday.
'I needed to find a way of relaxing the players. I knew they were nervous. So I had this idea beforehand to play a trick with the tactics board and it worked perfectly.'