21st November 2012
By BEN HOLT
It’s hardly surprising to see Roberto Di Matteo lose his job at Chelsea just a few months after winning the Champions League and FA Cup. It was always a temporary appointment, regardless of achievement, and after a run of poor results Abramovich was given the excuse to seek a new man to take charge.
Chelsea have had a bad month, drawing at home to Liverpool, losing at West Brom and then last night’s defeat against Juventus; a result which sees their hopes of qualification to the Champions League knock-out stages out of their hands. Under normal circumstances, at a normal club where owners accept that a club can have a dodgy spell, Di Matteo would have been given a bit longer – maybe even a full season. But Chelsea are not a normal club.
Mr Abramovich demands instant success, which he got when the Italian replaced Villas Boas at around this point last season. But instant success must be followed by continued success, especially when so much money has been thrown into the club. Hazard and Oscar have joined and on the whole been excellent, alongside the brilliant Juan Mata. But it’s the misfiring £50 million man who is indirectly responsible for Di Matteo’s departure. I’m not saying ‘blame Torres’, but if Didier Drogba was still at the club or if they had signed Dimitar Berbatov in the summer, Chelsea would be in a stronger position and probably still have a manager.
Abramovich is sending a message to the next Chelsea boss: “I spent a lot of money on Torres; make him better, or I’ll find someone else who can”. But what if Torres has peaked; never to return to the stunning form he found at Anfield? Sorry Roman, but you’ll have to accept you’ve wasted your money, and spend a bit more on someone like Falcao (although there’s no guarantee he’ll be an instant hit in the Premier League).
Perhaps this is why Rafa Benitez is rumoured to be travelling to London to replace Di Matteo on a temporary basis. He got the best out of Torres when at Liverpool – maybe he’s got the magic touch and can turn the Spaniard’s fortunes around.
Personally, I think the billionaire owner has misjudged the whole situation terribly. He bought all these fantastic little midfielders, but an out-of-sorts Torres and the potentially decent Daniel Sturridge is not a title-winning strike-force.
If it’s Benitez, then good luck to him. Chelsea fans don’t like him, but Abramovich won’t worry about that – he’s got Premiership experience, he’s won things, and maybe most importantly, he knows how to make Fernando Torres tick – in theory.
And then after Benitez, the Roman empire will look towards the man they’ve wanted all along – Pep Guardiola. But frankly, the former Barcelona boss still has an awful lot to prove. I imagine most managers would have had a fair degree of success with talent like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi in their side. Let’s see how he does without them.
But for now, another Chelsea manager bites the dust. Di Matteo follows Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Hiddink, Ancelotti and Villas-Boas out the back door. Who’ll be next?