So, what do fans of football outside of Chelsea think about the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo? I asked a number of them and here are their thoughts:
“As for Di Matteo, he’s been screwed over here… He deserved until the end of the season.”
Whilst it was clear that Roberto Di Matteo was never Abramovich’s first choice, he certainly deserved the job on a permanent basis after the success that he brought last season. Were Chelsea the best side in Europe? No. They were comprehensively outplayed in both the semi finals and the final, but they wouldn’t give up and managed to achieve something no London club ever had before. Possession, shots and completed passes all mean very little when you’ve got your hands on the cup, a cup that the likes of Mourinho, Ancelotti and Hiddink couldn’t manage to win in their spells at the club.
It seems as though Abramovich was just waiting for Di Matteo to make a mistake though and after losing top spot in the league and looking unlikely to progress past the group stages in Europe, the Chelsea owner seized the opportunity to get rid. Reports that have emerged since suggest that Di Matteo’s decision to drop Torres, a decision welcomed by many Chelsea supporters, was the final straw. Torres is a couple of months short from marking his two year anniversary at the club and he’s looked nothing like a £50m striker in the whole time he’s been there. After making the £30m mistake with Shevchenko, it’s strange that Abramovich still feels as though he should meddle in business that should only concern the manager. Chelsea spent £50m on Torres because Abramovich wanted him and now that it’s proven to be a duff buy, he’s opting to bring in the last manager who Torres enjoyed his last spell of good form under, over three seasons ago, in a last ditch attempt to salvage something from the transfer.
Unfortunately for Chelsea fans, this is the manager who has developed a long-standing feud with them, following his years in charge at Liverpool. Five years ago, Benitez mocked the plastic flags Chelsea dig out for big occasions and claimed the fans had “no passion”. I’m struggling to think of other occasions when a manager has chosen to criticise rival fans like this. It certainly is out of the ordinary and illustrates the feelings between Benitez and Chelsea supporters.
However, fans are fickle, and if Benitez does half as well as Liverpool fans say he will, he’ll win most of them over. I don’t mean he’ll be put up on a pedestal like he is by that barmy bunch from Merseyside, but if the trophies start pouring in again and he can distance himself from the Liverpool love-in in a way that Torres hasn’t managed, he might have a chance. Again, unfortunately for Chelsea fans, Benitez isn’t the manager Liverpool fans think he is, as Inter fans realised when he destroyed their Treble winning team. Inter were 13 points behind Milan when he was sacked, having finished 12 points ahead of them the season before. In the second half of the season they managed to close this gap to 4 points. Will Benitez turn Chelsea in to world beaters? Doubt it.
As for Di Matteo, he’s been screwed over here. I personally don’t think he is a world class manager and he probably wasn’t good enough for Chelsea, but he deserved until the end of this season. Whilst I don’t believe you should keep the manager for the sake of longevity, it’s daft to give the manager the boot when your team is 4 points away from the top of the league. But that’s how Roman does things and given the trophies Chelsea fans have lifted and celebrated entirely thanks to him, how much room is there to complain?
“I thought Roman Abramovich would take a bit more of a backseat… I probably couldn’t have been more wrong.”
After finally winning the Champions League last season, I thought Roman Ambramovich would take a bit more of a backseat, and not be so hasty with his decisions, and allow the team to slowly go through transition, letting the talented youngsters at the club to start to get game time, and for them all to develop as a group, slowly replacing ‘the old guard’. However, after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, I probably couldn’t have been more wrong.
Chelsea hit a slump, without a win in four is bad by most standards, but not disastrous. There’s still a long time to go in the league, and anything can still happen. The loss that will hurt them most is the one to Manchester United, as losing to one of your rivals at home will always have an effect over the season, but The Liberty and The Hawthorns are tough places to go, which is why their bad results for Chelseas stature, but not disastrous.
They have a brilliant replacement in Rafael Benitez, who, if given enough time and room, can deliver good things, but it shows a huge amount of disloyalty to sack the man who delivered the coveted Champions League trophy the first time things go badly, not even giving him a real chance to turn it around.
Romans money may be a huge factor behind Chelseas success, however, with the constant ‘hire and fire’ he’s not helping the club at all – not giving managers enough space or time to fully integrate their ways into the club. The disloyalty shown saddens me, but I’m almost accustomed to it with Romans ‘strategy’, but, all the best to Benitez, a top-class manager like him deserves a bit more
“Roman Abramovich has replaced a club legend with one of the most polarizing managers in Premier League history.”
At this point in time, football fans should be surprised by absolutely nothing that Chelsea do. The fairytale end to the tumultuous 2011/12 season raised expectations to an all-time high. The club seemed reluctant to appoint Di Matteo, but perhaps it was the first time that the club appointed a manager based solely on emotion. It was seemingly a victory for supporters: from a struggling side to FA Cup & Champions League winners within less than three months. Finally, a manager that they could hold close to their heart. Given Di Matteo’s swift exit from the club, his reputation will remain untarnished.
Perhaps the Chelsea had Benitez lined up in case of Di Matteo’s eventual ‘failure’. There is precious little margin for error at Stamford Bridge, and that will surely be at the forefront of Benitez’ mind. Is Benitez really anything more than a stop-gap at Chelsea?
Chelsea finally became the Champions of Europe in May but, with the appointment of the third manager in 2012, have done little to galvanize a poor reputation. Roman Abramovich has replaced a club legend with one of the most polarizing managers in Premier League history. Once again, the club has shown there is little room for sentiment at the Bridge.
“Di Matteo has been treated appallingly but his CV will be improved for it. A few bad results after the turnaround – and success – he achieved last year should be tolerated. Chelsea have success despite the revolving door policy of Abramovich.”
Part 1 can be found here