21 November 2012

Why Chelsea should not have sacked Di Matteo

The sacking of Roberto Di Matteo was one of the most shocking football dismissals of recent memory. A Chelsea legend, twice FA Cup winner as a player, won the club's first Champions League trophy against all the odds, just months after being appointed manager. 

To the amazement of many his reign has been terminated just six months after he was given the prestigious job on a permanent basis. Many Chelsea fans will be dismayed by the lack of faith shown in him by owner Roman Abramovich and the club's board, although this is nothing new to them as he was their eighth boss since the Russian billionaire took over in 2003. 

What is most surprising is that Abramovich has always fired previous managers on the basis that they did not do well enough in the Champions League, although Di Matteo delivered the trophy at the first time of asking. He also managed this impressive feat with a squad out of form and struggling in the Premier League, as well as facing a 3-1 deficit in the last 16 of Europe's elite competition against Napoli. 

Not only did they win the second leg against Napoli 4-1 after extra-time to go through, but he did oversee an up-turn in their league form and took them to Wembley, and ultimately, FA Cup victory.

It is the Champions League final in Munich that he will be most remembered for as the Blues overcame the home side on penalties thanks to a late Didier Drogba header and a Petr Cech penalty save in extra-time. 

Their road to Munich was not a cruise by any stretch of the imagination; beating Benfica before memorably seeing off Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate. 

Despite finishing sixth in the league last season, their league form did marginally improve as they had suffered a horrific start under former boss Andre Villas-Boas. 

Chelsea managers under Roman Abramovich

Winning %
Claudio Ranieri
Jose Mourinho
Avram Grant
Luiz Felipe Scolari
Guus Hiddink
Carlo Ancelotti
Andre Villas-Boas
Roberto Di Matteo

While the table above shows that the Italian only had a better record than three of his predecessors, he took over in totally different circumstances than any of the others. Chelsea were at their lowest point since Abramovich pumped his money into the club when Di Matteo took over, and from that he produced their all-time high.

Abramovich should not take all the blame for these sackings. After all, without his money the West Londoners would still be delighted with a top five finish each season instead of sacking managers for not cruising to league titles.

The Chelsea board have a big impact on the decisions that the Russian owner makes and without their advice, he would probably not have got through so many managers in the last eight years. There are so many supporters at the club that are crying out for the stability that has brought success to the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, and more recently, Manchester City. 

Having said that, all football fans are fickle and athe majority of Chelsea supporters would welcome Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho with open arms. However the job, at least on a short-term basis, looks destined to go to Rafael Bentitez, a man who did anything but endear himself to Chelsea supporters during his time at Liverpool.

His record has been good at every club he has managed, although he has been out of a job for over two years now and replacing Di Matteo with Benitez is not a very forward-thinking decision. It is anything but promoting stability, especially considering the age of the two men (Di Matteo 42, Benitez 52).

While Guardiola did excellently at Barcelona, he has never been at a club like Chelsea before and the players may not take to his style of play. Mourinho would clearly be a great fit but that is more Chelsea fans dreaming than an actual possibility, for now at least. 

Roman Abramovich will be sitting in his pent-house suite right now feeling good about himself and expecting an immediate climb to the summit of the Premier League, but he might find that not forthcoming. 

Chelsea have looked good this season and could still qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. They have a massive game on Sunday at home to Manchester City and they would have had a much better chance of inflicting the champions' first defeat of the campaign if they had not made such drastic changes.


  1. This was indeed insanity and shows that RA either does not have a feel or does not care for the feelings of most CFC fans. If you look at the league last season I think RDM knew that after beating Liverpool in the FA cup they would react and made changes fielding a significantly weakened team. He knew our league fate was resting on Arsenal or TH slipping up and they did not. So CFC might a got 5th but if Cech had been injured then the CL would never have happened: it was good management. I have several pre-season blogs where I said CFC need at least one more full back or another right back to prevent playing the liability that is Luiz. They need someone to stand in for Mikel in big games as he simple is not good enough at that level. They should have bought Falcao. All of those could have been done. Having landed Oscar and Hazard the hard work was done. If I can see that then if the people who run CFC can't they are either idiots or following an agenda against the interests of the club. I have actually read blogs saying this high turnover of managers is a good thing. So its going to make Pep want to come to The Bridge: get real. The success has undeniably been great but the price in reputation has become damaging. Before you could say it was envy from other fans but it runs deeper now. I have supported CFC for as long as I have known about football. I was born in West London and refuse to feel ashamed at supporting the club I love. Sadly today a part of me does.

  2. The insanity is retaining a manager who's presided over some of the most controversial incidents caused by chelsea's players.

    Insanity isn't the sacking, insanity is RA waiting until he likely knew the FA outcome that his players and his manger lost it and apparently threatened a ref, which will have huge reprocussions for the club.