Ajax Coach Set to Join Grant

Henk ten Cate gets okay to finalize deal with Chelsea

Ajax coach Henk ten Cate said on Sunday he still planned to lead the Amsterdam club, but just 24 hours later, Ajax and Chelsea announced what had already appeared in the English press: Ten Cate will be appointed as Avraham Grant's assistant at Chelsea. He has already served in that role at Barcelona.

"After being approached by Chelsea, Henk ten Cate asked the Ajax management last week to start negotiations with the Premier-League side," said a statement on the Ajax Web site. "After internal deliberations, Ajax agreed to do so.

"It is now up to Chelsea and Henk ten Cate to finalise the deal together. Ajax do not expect this to take much time."

Ten Cate has not recorded impressive accomplishments at Ajax. He was appointed to the position in May 2006 and signed for two years. He failed in two attempts to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, and last week Ajax was also eliminated from the UEFA Cup.

In the meantime, the business with Andriy Shevchenko refuses to die. Maybe it was a purely professional decision - even Jose Mourinho made a similar decision - or maybe it is an attempt to curry favor with the fans, but Grant has not given the Ukrainian a lot of playing time recently. Even though it looked like the coaching change was going to result in more minutes on the field, Shevchenko sat on the bench. He did not play in the Champions League match against Valencia and was used only as a substitute against Bolton in a Premier League match on Sunday.

Grant addressed those who claim that a close relationship with club owner Roman Abramovich would affect who plays and who does not. "When they appointed me, no one told me to play a friend of [Chelsea chief executive] Peter Kenyon or anyone else," he said. "They pay me to make decisions and take responsibility."

Team captain John Terry joined those supporting Grant, at least for the time being. "He is doing well; we respect him and support him," Terry said yesterday. "The fans certainly loved Mourinho very much and it is only natural that they would sing in his honor, but they will learn to love and appreciate Grant, too."