Di Matteo departure underlines Chelsea madness
Published: 27.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
Roberto di Matteo has finally been sacked at Chelsea after a run of poor results.
Those would be defeats to Manchester United and West Brom, and draws away to Swansea and home to Liverpool, and then the defeat to Juventus. It is of course the first time di Matteo has had a tough period as Chelsea coach, having guided them to the Champions League last season.
Oh yes, the Champions League. The trophy di Matteo brought to Chelsea after less than half a season in charge last time around. To have achieved that was nothing short of remarkable, particularly given the lack of quality at his disposal compared to those he was up against in Barcelona and Bayern Munich. For Chelsea to have won the Champions League was a miracle of sorts, which the Italian deserves immense credit.
Now that he has been sent packing by Roman Abramovich is a marker of how ridiculous the situation is at Chelsea. How can a manager, who in half a year has won the Champions League, FA Cup and changed the teamís style, all without actually coaching the team for an entire season, be under such pressure? If that is not good enough, then what exactly is?
It is true that di Matteo enjoyed huge slices of luck last season. His team were outplayed in every single game of their Champions League knockout campaign, at home and away to Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona. They were also outclassed by Bayern Munich. But that should not be a surprise Ė all of these teams had better, more technical personnel than Chelsea. That di Matteo won the competition is a reflection of his tactical ability and getting the best out of a poor side. For that he deserves credit.
Of course, Chelsea are now in a battle just to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. But that should be no shock. Juventus won Serie A unbeaten last season and are the best team in Italy. Shakhtar Donetsk won their first 15 games of the Ukrainian league, and have a hugely effective team which Mircea Lucescu has moulded over recent years. These are sides on the same level as Chelsea, and they cannot expect to walk through a difficult group.
There is nothing seemingly good enough at Chelsea anymore. Where once the smallest failure secured a managerís fate, as with Avram Grant in the Champions League final of 2008, now it appears that even success is not enough. Jose Mourinho rowed with Abramovich and the two fell out. That was different. But di Matteo had only done a superb job at Chelsea so far. To fire him is ridiculous.
This is a man who should not have been under any pressure of any sort. If Abramovich was the owner of Arsenal, or Manchester United, then it is valid to wonder if Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson would still be in a job. That is the lunacy of the Russian oligarch, whose continued search for impossible perfection is a standard no coach is able to live up to. Even Pep Guardiola.