Sir Alex Ferguson once famously described Chelsea’s desire to win the Champions League as an “obsession”, and despite a turbulent season just ninety minutes separates the blues from completing their quest to bring a first European Cup back to London.
What makes Chelsea’s European success all the more startling is that the man over seeing their resurgence was last seen being handed his P45 by the owners of West Brom, and if Di Matteo can lead Chelsea to the promise land of European glory on May 19th there will undoubtedly be a clamour for the Italian to be handed the Chelsea reins on a more permanent basis.
They say football is a results business, and alongside politics, that’s certainly been the case at Stamford Bridge ever since the outset of the Roman Revolution back in June 2003. A string of the game’s greatest managerial names from Carlo Ancelotti to Luiz Felipe Scolari have been shown the Stamford Bridge exit door by the club’s ruthless Russian owner for their failure to deliver Europe’s top prize.
John Terry’s missed penalty kick, on that unforgettable night in Moscow, was how agonisingly close Chelsea have come to Champions League glory; and Terry’s miss saw Avram Grant on his way to the job centre.
If Chelsea a week on Saturday Chelsea do find their mission accomplished this would not hide the cracks of Chelsea’s desperate need to rebuild their ageing squad. AVB was brought to The Bridge in the summer charged with the task of rebuilding the Chelsea team, but an inability to gain the belief of senior players resulted in Chelsea tumbling out of the Champions League positons and Villas-Boas out of a job.
Di Matteo immediantly brought back the senior players, such as Lampard & Drogba, that Villas-Boas was so reluctant to use and was greeted with an up turn in results. The problem is though that succes can not hide the need for Chelsea to lower the age of their squad, and Di Matteo winning trophies with vastly experainced players does not prove that he has the capability or the desire to rebuild Chelsea’s squad.
The sight of John Terry appearing to be almost managing the team from the sidelines during Chelsea’s Champions League win over Napoli highlights the power of the Blues main men under Di Matteo’s stewardship; making the prospect of the italian having the strength of character to tell senior players their time at Stamford Bridge is up a remote one.
Chelsea’s next manager needs to be a man strong enough to tackle the ego of Terry and Co, and experianced not only in winning trophies but also rebuilding teams. A trait the former West Brom head coach has yet to exhibit.
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