Soccer / U.K. Papers Predict Grant's Dismissal

Avram Grant is under intense pressure. Not only because of Saturday's shameful loss to Barnsley in the FA Cup, but because of reports that Chelsea is negotiating with La Liga's Getafe coach Michael Laudrup.

According to the Mail on Sunday, a tentative offer was made to the 43-year-old, who used to play for Real Madrid and Barcelona. The Danish coach recently won a number of important UEFA Cup matches and has strong ties with Chelsea officials.

Chelsea sources say that owner Roman Abramovich will have no other option but to sack Grant following the embarrassing quarterfinal defeat to the lower-tier team and the loss to Tottenham in the League Cup final only two weeks ago. The Russian billionaire will hold a meeting with Grant and Chelsea officials later this week concerning the two defeats.

In any case, Abramovich is not expected to make any changes this season as he believes Chelsea may still make it to the European Champions' League final in Moscow. Also, he likes Grant.

Laudrup is only one of the names to have been raised as a possible replacement. Frank Rijkaard and Jose Mourinho have also been mentioned. In such an instance, Grant will be removed from his post and given an office job in Chelsea's management team.

If Grant read yesterday's British papers it must have been an unpleasant experience. They derided him for not playing six regulars and also mentioned a number of possible replacements. Meanwhile, Grant called an emergency meeting with players to talk about the recent defeats. Some of yesterday's criticism was directed at Chelsea assistant coach Henk ten Cate, who accused players of leaking inside information to the press to hurt the club.

"What bothers me is that some players are leaking stuff to the press," he said. "I have a problem with players who leak things on purpose. Tabloids around the world are bad, but in England they are the worst. I told players that there's a time to work and a time to laugh and then they said I told them not to smile."

The Dutch aide added that his mother had called him to ask if he hit his players. Ten Cate was obviously referring to a report that he almost came to blows with defender John Terry. One of the reasons Grant will stay until the end of the season is because ten Cate is even less popular with the players than he is.