Why di Matteo’s job shouldn’t be made permanent
April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
Chelsea have been well and truly rejuvinated since the departure of Andre Vilas Boas. Reaching the Champions League final has capped off what has been an extraordinary period for the Blues since his departure, and the level of inferiority with which AVB must be feeling right now is surely unenviable. The man responsible for this turn in fortunes is Roberto di Matteo, once the discreet sidekick to AVB and his ‘project’. It’s a turnaround that has not only seen them reach the Champions League final, but indeed the FA cup final, an unflattering yet flickering hope of finishing in the top four of the Premier League with one defeat so far. What he’s also done is install a new sense of belief in the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres. Had their careers started at Chelsea when di Matteo’s did, the media scrutiny on their behalfs of late would be a curious one. Should Chelsea go on to win the Champions League, it will be but a cherry on top of what is increasingly looking like a new era.
Despite this, I remain firm on the belief that this is merely a romanticised period for di Matteo. What he has given Chelsea is a fesh start; a new sense of belief, determination and direction. Lampoard heaped the praise on him after the Barcelona game, saying
“I can’t speak highly enough of him. Look at the record, it’s not coincidence. He’s created an atmosphere, a spirit and determination. What he’s done in bringing it together and getting a result like this, and the results we’ve had before, is amazing.” It certainly isn’t coincidence, and his evident calmness when Terry was sent off, and his ability to keep the players focused and talking was beyond his years in managerial experience. Does he have the experience however, to control a team expecting to win trophies over an extended period of time? Does he have the golden touch in the transfer market, and will he be able to tactically manage the new players that will inevitably have to come in for the new season? He hasn’t been tested in any of these areas yet. What he has at the moment, is a group of players who listen to him because he was once a hero at Chelsea as a player, and he has senior players who are releaved to have a manager that isn’t weaning them out of the first team.
The honeymoon era has been an ejoyable time for many managers in the past, no less than Kenny Dalglish last season- the return of ‘the King’, who did exactly what the fans wanted- invest millions into new players and win games. It is merely reputation that keeps him at the club today, as they sit in 8th on level points with Fulham. Liverpool are back to square one in terms of their performances, even with Dalglishes’ experience. I dare say this could happen to Chelsea, and what’s more if di Matteo stays, it will be with a manager who has no experience. Don’t forget that this is a man who has MK Dons, a West Brom sacking and a failed Birmingham application on his managerial CV. Di Matteo started his managerial role at Chelsea as caretaker, allowing chairman Roman Abramovich time to employ the appropriate man for the job, and he has now found himself as the leading candidate for the permanent post.
Avram Grant told BBC earlier this week that “Roberto deserves one more year at least but Abramovich sometimes thinks differently.” I can’t help but feel urked by this statement. What does he mean by “one more year atleast”? Does he mean that if he has a mediocre season with them then so be it- he tried and failed and it’s time to bring in someone more experienced? It would be a shame for Chelsea to lose someone like di Matteo. He’s still young, thus many players can identify with him. He’s a hero at Chelsea, so everyone associated with the club including the fans looks up to him regardless. For these reasons, he shouldn’t sign on the dotted line, because if he doesn’t it means he can continue his role as assistant manager, which for the time being atleast is where he is comfortable, adapted and trusted.
As good a job as he has done in his brief managerial spell at the club, there are other more experienced managers who will be more familiar with what it’s like to guide a team to success under pressurised situations. The likes of Fabio Capello, Pep Guardiola, and even former Chelsea managers Jose Mourinho and Guus Huddink have this experience. And despite Abramovich’s trigger happy recruitment policy, I believe it is still the way the machine has to operate for a club like Chelsea.