Is Di Matteo really the right man for Chelsea?

Is Di Matteo really the right man for Chelsea?

Interim Manager Di Matteo passed arguably the biggest interview in his footballing career when he was awarded a 2 year contract at Stamford Bridge this summer. A legend as player and now as a manager, Di Matteo managed to deliver the one thing that Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t. The Champions League. However despite his success, his achievements still manage to draw critics. With many feeling his appointment is nothing more than a gap fill, as Chelsea wait for Pep Guardiola to finish his sabbatical. While others believe his luck is destined to run out as they wait for the Italian ‘defensive’ tactics to get found out.

But maybe Di Matteo doubters should take a closer look at the Italians managerial track record. is destined to run out as they wait for the Italian ‘defensive’ tactics to get found out. When he was appointed manager of MK Dons in 2008, he guided them to 3rd in league with Paul Ince’s newly promoted side (losing top scoring Keith Andrews in the process). Di Matteo’s trademark 4-2-3-1 system resulted in the Dons receiving regular praised on their expansive style and attacking footballing swagger.

In 2009 Di Matteo success at Dons caught the attention of West Brom. He gained automatic promotion with what was essentially Tony Mowbarys team. The plaudits soon came around as West Broms played their way out the league using his 4-2-3-1 formation. While in the Premiership this philosophy didn’t change, West Brom continued to play the Di Matteo way before he was dismissed, despite having a win percentage of 48%.

The appointed as Interm manager saw Di Matteo set about his work straight away, having one to ones with all the chelsea players and assuring them of their importance to the club. From here he created a foundation which allowed the Italian to implement his 4-2-3-1 formation, while he attempted to bring about change. A change which witnessed Di Matteo convert Lampard into a deeper role, Ramires into a winger and Mata into central playmaker. While inconsistent players like Mikel, Luiz and Drogba began to come to fruition as Di Matteo got Chelseas recovery into full motion.

Under Di Matteo Chelsea averaged 2 goals game, including a series of high scoring wins (Napoli 4-1, Villa 4-2, Spurs 5-1 and QPR 6-1). Despite this people only seem to remember the games against Barcelona and Bayern, where understandably Di Matteo’s employed a somewhat negative strategy, but surely this can be forgiven when it bought Chelsea the ultimate reward of the The Champions League. As Bob Paisley used famously said. “Win the game first, worry about how we played later.”

Therefore I refuse to accept that notion that Chelsea are a defensive side under the leadership of Di Matteo. If anything Di Matteo deserves more credit, very few managers can take another managers squad of players, change the formation and philosophy, while managing a win percentage of 64%, while also winning the FA Cup and Champions League all within the space of 3 months.

I personally feel Di Matteo achievements have been overlooked as people instead choose to credit the dressing rooms revival and spirit as the ultimate means of success, as he gave some of the power back to senior players. However had a most ‘experienced’ manager replicated Di Matteo’s achievements the recognition would have been substantially greater, instead Chelsea are labelled defensive and lucky instead of organised and tactical.

Starting Bertrand in Champions League Final, tactical lines up against Barcelona and not allowing Torres to take a penalty in the Champions League Final are big decisions and all decisions he got right. To put it simply Di Matteo really hasn’t done a lot wrong, which is why any criticism baffles me greatly. By contrast the Italian managed to get results by using a mixture of players, tactics and strategies. Surely that should be applauded?

Furthermore not many could question Di Matteos tactics or selection during his 22 games in charge, nor could his ability to extract the best of his players. The style of football Chelsea played under Di Matteo would certainly be questionable, but even Guardiola would struggle to get Chelsea playing Barcelona football within the space of 3 months. But should Di Matteo get Chelsea playing in a similar style to what his MK Dons and West Brom sides played, Chelsea will be fine.

Progress happens in stages.

And I firmly believe Di Matteo now has the platform to deliver.

#Footballing Reasons (@Lolo_CFC)

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