At the start of the previous season Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich pulled out all the stops to bring in, the then Porto boss, Andre Villas Boas. The brief was to cut the old guard and bring about a Barca-Esq style of play.
AVB came and started to go about his work with the subtlety of a sledge hammer, he soon isolated himself from the senior professionals in the dressing room and well the rest is history.
The man that brought in some much needed stability was former Italy & Chelsea player, failed ex-West Bromwich Albion manager and AVB’s assistant coach at the time, Roberto Di Matteo.
From that moment on the previous job description was tossed out of the window and the club went back to what it knew. The old guard was reinstated; Drogba, Terry and Lampard ruled the roost of Stamford Bridge once more and the Blues got back to winning ways with a depressing, defensive and football killing display in the back yard of their co finalists Bayern Munich.
Much has been said about Chelsea being lucky, that the stand in manager was a puppet whilst Terry and Lampard picked the team. My personal opinion is Chelsea earned that trophy, they defended like Trojans, the team shape was disciplined, and they took the chances that were presented. That is not luck, that is soccer, and the failed WBA manager played a crucial part in that triumph. Whether Terry & Lampard were having a large say or not is irrelevant, a good manager draws on the experience of people around them and gets the best out of the team at their disposal.
Roman Abramovich had paid a large fortune to the biggest and brightest managers and all of them came up short, and then by surprise when all looked lost a manager who’s last job almost relegated WBA (before Roy Hodgson saved the day) popped up and delivered his dream.
The Russian wants glamour, a big name for his “big” club and still wasn’t 100% behind the “lucky” Italian, Roman was backed into a corner, a soft luxurious corner probably cushioned with rare Russian bear fur, but none the less it was still a corner. Roberto was reluctantly rewarded a “degrading” 2 year contract – but could the billionaire’s reluctance have any merit?
The Oligarch again backed Chelsea big in the transfer window, over $100 million was spent recruiting the likes of Eden Hazard and now that Chelsea have increased the expectation will Di Matteo be found wanting? Despite the right decisions the Italian made last year, what will he do now he actually has to win games with a bit of substance? Roman wants a brand of football that matches Barca, basically he wants to be Arsenal but win things.
Di Matteo can no longer put 11 men behind the ball, he needs to be adventurous, he needs to balance the defence with the attack, and can he do it?
On Wednesdays performance the answer is no, Chelsea dominated possession, they had shots on target and scored a beauty but when Juventus attacked they looked frail, Lampard looked off the pace, Terry for all his gallant defending needs security around him and well the less said about side show bob (David Luis), Jon Obi and Fernando Torres the better.
Chelsea’s new signings carry the expectation that they should attack and dominate games, but can the new found attacking impetus now ultimately be their undoing? Has the “lucky” Italians luck finally run out? My hunch is that Roberto wont last long under dark lord Abramovich, blues fans will be welcoming a new manager come Christmas (Guardiola if they can, Redknapp is they can’t), it’s only 4 months shy of the January transfer window! back to usual at the Bridge