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Phuket Sports: Avram grants an audience

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Phuket Sports: Avram grants an audience | Thaiger

PHUKET: Famous football manager Avram Grant is a softly spoken man who spent his formative managerial years in Israel coaching Maccabi Haifi, Hapoel Haifi and the Israel
national team.

The Israeli took over as manager of Chelsea in 2007 and brought them to the brink of a Champions League final victory, only for a John Terry penalty miss to snatch it away.

He led Portsmouth to the FA Cup final in 2010, the same season they went into administration. He then managed West Ham the season they were relegated and recently helped guide Partizan Belgrade to their fifth successive Serbian Championship before resigning earlier this year.

The Phuket Gazette’s Andrew Scott spoke with Avram Grant at Serenity Resort and Residences in Rawai, Phuket.

Phuket Gazette: How did you find the transition from coaching the Israel national team and coaching club teams in Israel prior to coaching Chelsea?

Avram Grant: For me it was not a big surprise. Since the age of 22 I had visited England five times each year and was in Europe to study.

I was Bob Paisley’s guest at Liverpool and I watched training for one week to 10 days – watching games to see how the club was run. Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson are friends, so it was not something I didn’t know before.

I thought that I could give something to English football and it could give something to me.

Why did it take you so long to leave Israel?

Even if you look at England now, there is no coach or manager from a small country. It’s very difficult for them to accept someone from a small country.

People only really noticed me when they watched the Israeli national team’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where we didn’t lose a game and missed out on qualification by only two goals.

Who is the best Israeli player you have worked with?

I have worked with many good Israelis, but if I was to choose one it would be Yossi Benayoun who has played for Arsenal, Chelsea and now plays for West Ham. I think he is the most famous one. I started to coach him in 2000 when he was 19-years-old. Then we won the championship with Maccabi Haifi in Israel.

After Israel he moved onto Spain and to England. He is the type of player I believe in because he is also a very nice person.

What makes him so special?

He is very clever and can think a lot quicker than other players with or without the ball. I have to admit I was not so sure he would succeed in England as he is not so physical. He is an intelligent player that can help the dynamic players around him.

Why do you think fewer English players play abroad?
I don’t know if you know the color of the money (laughs)? I think [for] two reasons. First: it is the most exciting league in the world. Stadiums are always full, even if you go to the Championship – the stadiums are always full. A football player is like an actor, he wants to play where everybody will see him. Second: Money.

Players always get paid on time. When I was at Portsmouth the owners didn’t pay on time and this was a big thing in England.

When you took over from Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, was it hard to leave his shadow?
I can tell you that one of my friends sent me a message saying, ‘I don’t know if you know what you are doing to [take over] after Jose Mourinho’. I knew it would be very difficult and that all the world expected I would fail after Mourinho.

As I have done all my life, I took on the challenge and only thought about what was best for the team. It was not easy but it was a big challenge.

Do you think your time at Chelsea was a success?
Some of the players said at the time that they didn’t think any other manager could’ve taken over after Mourinho and carried the team the way that I did. When I first saw them, the team was not good, nor was the atmosphere.

With me they were almost the champions of England. We came down to the last game on the same points as Manchester United, which nobody was expecting when I started, and then the Champions league final. It was a very good season and a good base for Chelsea for the future.

Did you feel hard done by losing your job after the Champions league final?

Yes. When you become a manager you expect everything but football changes… you are [only] as good as your last result. My last result was good and other results were good [but] it was a decision from the owner. I didn’t even ask him why. I moved forward and had good days after that.

What are your views on the John Terry racism case after working with him for so many years?

It is good to fight against racism but I think it went a little bit too far.

John Terry is not a racist. Even though he said a few words he didn’t need to say. But, we are playing football. If we played here five on five, maybe also we would say something that is not so nice. It is good to fight against racism.

— Andrew Scott

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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