Football

Chelsea must look no further than Roberto

Nine wins in 12 games for Di Matteo. (©GettyImages)
Nine wins in 12 games for Di Matteo. (©GettyImages).

What does Roberto Di Matteo need to do to secure the permanent Chelsea manager's position?

Since taking over on an interim basis from Andre Villas-Boas at the start of March, the Italian has won nine of his 12 games in charge, including Sunday's emphatic 5-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, confirming the Blues' place in next month's FA Cup final at Wembley.

As Chelsea prepare to face Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final encounter tomorrow night, Di Matteo has passed the first test during a pivotal couple of weeks in the club's season.

Negotiating his way to a European final, at the expense of the current holders, will surely further cement his place at the top of Roman Abramovich's shortlist of successors.

Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri - the man at the helm during the Russian's arrival in west London in 2003 - believes Di Matteo must win either the Champions League or the FA Cup to stand any chance of getting the job full-time.

"Roberto has started very well," he reflected in an interview with BBC Sport. "Roberto is the right man to do something good there.

"If he achieves the FA Cup and fourth place, then why not? Experience is not necessarily important. Which is the most important? They both are. It is the easy answer but it is the truth.

"It is important for the next season to finish in the top four and make the Champions League, but it is also very important for the club to win the FA Cup."

In the same interview, Ranieri passed comment on the downfall of Di Matteo's predecessor, Villas-Boas, saying that his attempt to make sweeping changes to an established team over a short period of time, is ultimately what led to his sacking.

However, the former Inter Milan boss, who himself was sacked from the San Siro less than a month ago, has no doubt that the Portuguese tactician will come back stronger for the experience.

"Villas-Boas is clearly a good manager - he won a lot at Porto," he continued. "Look at Pep Guardiola at Barcelona too - he also started very young at a big club.

"Your age is not important. What is important is the ideas you transmit to your players.

"Villas-Boas was unlucky because he wanted to do something new. But there is a team there with experienced players and it is important to use them in the right way.

"If you put in younger players only sometimes, rather than change things a lot, then that is how I would do it."

According to the Daily Express, Di Matteo has in fact already been interviewed for the full-time position, having spoken to technical director Michael Emenalo about taking the job beyond the end of the season.

As recently as two weeks ago, it is believed the fans' favourite had not been given any indication whether he would be considered as a long-term successor to Villas-Boas. But, after being called in by Emenalo to discuss the club's future, the caretaker was told he will feature on the list of potential candidates.

Di Matteo would likely relish the chance of promotion, having already underlined his desire to stay in management rather than drop back down to become either a No.2, or first-team coach.

He certainly seems to have the support of the players, who have responded positively to his methods since taking charge of first-team affairs, resulting in a significant upturn in form.

"Roberto has to take a lot of the credit," said Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard in the aftermath of Sunday's memorable victory. "He has done brilliantly and the results speak for themselves. You can see the desire and love he has for the club, and the supporters relate to that.

"He has done the simple things right, and he has got individual players performing well and with real confidence. The basic skill of management involves man-management, and he has carried that out brilliantly, and you can see the whole side playing with a real confidence."

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Roberto Di Matteo

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