Grant cannot fathom Mata exclusion

first_img “I personally don’t understand (why he left Mata out),” Grant told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme. “But in this position Chelsea have so many players, so if Oscar, Eden Hazard, or Willian are out people will ask why they are out of the squad or team. “Mata was one of the best players in the midfield in the last year. “A manager needs to take a decision and in this case it’s a tough decision. Jose will know how to manage them well.” Asked if Mata had a future at Chelsea, Grant added: “I think yes. He’s a great player, he’s won games, gave assists and scored goals. “Chelsea have many players in this position, maybe one more than they need, but that can also be an advantage.” Grant succeeded Mourinho when the Portuguese was sacked in 2007, but his own reign lasted just one season. Abramovich is reported to have a significant say on team selection and transfer targets at Stamford Bridge, but Grant insists it is the manager who calls the shots. Mata, last season’s player of the year, was omitted from the squad altogether for Saturday’s 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Fulham, placing his future under renewed doubt. Napoli are reported to be considering an approach in January and it has been reported that Mourinho’s sparing use of the playmaker has caused friction with owner Roman Abramovich. Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant cannot understand why Jose Mourinho has marginalised Juan Mata, but insists the Spaniard still has a future at Stamford Bridge. When asked how often Abramovich interfered in picking his side, Grant responded: “Never. He didn’t do it and I don’t think he did it with any manager. This is a story that isn’t true. “Abramovich has spent a lot of money at Chelsea and so has the right to say his opinion. “But at the end of the day the manager made the decisions and he never said do this or that. “When we spoke about football he’d say what his opinion is, but so did the chief executive. But it was the manager’s decision and he would support that decision. “No one can complain because managers know his philosophy, they know when they sign what will happen if they don’t do well. “I’ve known him a long time and he never took a decision against me. If a manager said ‘I don’t want this player’, he will not buy him.” Press Associationlast_img read more

NBA roundup: Doncic, Mavs pull level with Clippers

first_imgLUKA Doncic had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and the Dallas Mavericks earned a 127-114 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday near Orlando to even their opening-round Western Conference playoff series at one win apiece.Kristaps Porzingis added 23 points and seven rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points, and Trey Burke finished with 16 points as the Mavericks leveled the best-of-seven series.Seth Curry chipped in 15 points and Boban Marjanovic, a former Clipper, hit 6 of 8 shots on his way to 13 points. Marjanovic added nine rebounds. Kawhi Leonard had 35 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers. Lou Williams contributed 23 points, while Paul George, who was limited by foul trouble, had 14 points and 10 boards. Marcus Morris Sr. had 14 points and eight rebounds.Toronto Raptors 104 – Brooklyn Nets 99 Norman Powell scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, Fred VanVleet had 24 points and 10 assists and Toronto rallied to defeat Brooklyn to grab a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.The Raptors, who raced to a 33-point first-half lead in Monday’s win, fell behind by 14 in the first quarter of Game 2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference clash.The Nets still led by six entering the fourth quarter, but the defending NBA champion Raptors opened the period with a 19-5 run to lead 93-85 with 6:21 remaining.Utah Jazz 124 – Denver Nuggets 105 Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Jordan Clarkson added 26 to help Utah run away with a victory the Denver in Game 2 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.Mitchell also dished out eight assists to help the Jazz even the series at 1-1. Utah finished with 32 assists on 45 baskets and shot 20 of 44 (45.5 percent) from the 3-point arc. Royce O’Neale chipped in a career-high eight assists to help fuel the offense. The Jazz turned the ball over only eight times.Nikola Jokic scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists to lead Denver. Michael Porter Jr. added 28 points for the Nuggets, who trailed the entire second half.Boston Celtics 128 – Philadelphia 76ers 101 Boston recorded a second straight comfortable win to begin its playoff series against Philadelphia, getting 33 points from Jayson Tatum for a 2-0 series lead.Equaling the most 3-pointers in their heralded postseason history, the Eastern Conference’s third seed outscored the 76ers 57-15 from beyond the arc to successfully follow up on a 109-101 win in the opener.Kemba Walker added 22 points and Jaylen Brown 20 for the Celtics, who had lost three of four to the 76ers in the regular season. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 34 points for the 76ers. —Field Level Medialast_img read more