The Secret Behind Roberto Di Matteo’s Success at Chelsea

What is Roberto Di Matteo doing at Chelsea that Andre Villas-Boas wasn’t doing? The pundits can analyze it until they’re blue in the face but the answer is quite simple. Di Matteo is using common sense. While AVB tinkered and toyed, the established veterans became unsettled, which ultimately disrupted any sort of continuity at the club. We all know AVB was brought in to help usher out the old guard and bring in a new era of football at Chelsea. This isn’t something that you can do overnight. You can’t just take out the players who have been absolute staples at your club and expect there to be no fall out. If in fact AVB was told that he would have time to work in his new style of play, then he should be roundly criticized for the shoddy rush job he tried to pull off. Man for man Chelsea still have one of the strongest squads in the Premier League, which is why even with all of that quality it was baffling that AVB struggled so mightily.

The Premier League is a win now league and that is the approach that Roberto Di Matteo is taking. As Chelsea assistant he had a front row seat as to what was working and what wasn’t during AVB’s short reign. It’s not every day that a manager like Di Matteo is going to get a chance to manage a top four side so why would he want to deviate from what has worked in the past? He knows that even if he does turn around Chelsea’s season that his chances of retaining the job are slim. This is his auditioning period for his next job that he will surely get if he does succeed. Therein lies the difference between AVB and Roberto Di Matteo. One was brought in with huge expectations, the other has few expectations and anything achieved under his reign is gravy. Would Di Matteo be having the success he is having if he was in AVB’s place? It’s tough to say but there clearly aren’t many managers who can handle it.

Even if they are getting up in years, you still can’t deny the quality that players like Drogba, Terry and Lampard bring to the squad. Their pace may be slipping but their experience cannot be replicated by anyone in the squad. The fact is they know how to get it done at all levels that Chelsea play at, so why you wouldn’t want to have them there leading the younger generation and teaching them how to take care of business is beyond me. It’s a model that Sir Alex Ferguson has been using for years. You let the established players teach the young guns how to win, how to succeed, how to face adversity, how to get those scrappy results that the top teams seem to always get. If Roman Abramovich is that opposed to relying on the players that are still around from the Mourinho era then AVB would still have a job and he would have just written this year off as a loss. His indecisiveness has cost Chelsea the season and robbed us of what would have been a fantastic three horse race for the title.

Di Matteo will turn the squad around by relying on the old guard playing the style and positions they’re used to. If the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals is kind, don’t be surprised if they make it to the semis or possibly even the finals of the Champions League. If, and it is a big if, Chelsea do somehow manage to make it to the finals of the CL again then Roman’s bed is made. He has to ride out the storm with the Mourinho era players. Most teams would kill to be in that situation, I’m not quite sure why this seems like such a bad thing to the Chelsea owner. It’s common sense that you play your best players in the positions that they are comfortable in. All the over analyzing just ends up muddying the simple truth that if you have good players, you play them and build around them. This isn’t a carefully guarded secret that only top managers have. It’s just the basics, which is something that Chelsea is getting back to under Roberto Di Matteo. Jose Mourinho’s legacy will always be felt at Chelsea, Roman just needs to accept this and do what any good owner does, leave the sporting side of the business to the professionals.

15 thoughts on “The Secret Behind Roberto Di Matteo’s Success at Chelsea”

    1. Based on Chelsea’s performance in the first leg against Napoli, I don’t think AVB would have gotten Chelsea through last night. While Di Matteo’s tenure has been short, the success he’s shown in such a short period of time is definitely a big difference. Whether he can maintain for the long term is another question, but I don’t think Chelsea fans are worried right now.

      The Gaffer

      1. Gaffer I agree. I’ve always like Di Matteo’s coaching but there is 1 other factor. How much were the Chelsea “old guard” in the bag for AVB? if they were underplaying to sabotage him then turned it on after the change that suggests a different argument.. The level in effort and passion against Napoli was unmatched for at least this year. No way to trulely know but I hope the players played it straight

  1. RDM has done what I try to do with my own U13 team..KISS. Keep it simple stupid. He’s not outthinking himself, which is a trend I saw too may times out of AVB. RDM is putting each player in a position to maximize his own positive traits, which can thereby give each player the maximum chance of success when their game is off. This is shown in the 2nd leg with Napoli, where I thought Mata had an off game but it wasn’t big negative for the team. Same with Essien…his passing was off but because he was playing in a position that is best suited for him, the negative plays by Essien were negated. And as the game went on, Essien got stronger because he know there would be success in the position he was playing.

  2. “The Secret Behind Roberto Di Matteo’s Success at Chelsea”. Meaning Di Matteo has already been successful. Then this: “Di Matteo will turn the squad around by relying on the old guard playing the style and positions they’re used to”, meaning Di Matteo hasn’t yet been successful.

    Has Di Matteo been successful or has he not been successful or the author wants to say he will be successful by doing so so so so …things?

    Can the author first get his thought process consistent then write an article so it doesn’t get us readers confused about exactly what the author is meaning to write here?

    1. You’re reading too much into the headline. He’s only been on the job for nine days, and has already navigated Chelsea to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and Champions League, as well as getting an important win against Stoke City. Short term success, yes. Long term success, we shall see.

      The Gaffer

      1. Gaffer, yes, that’s what I am saying. He’s only been in the job for nine days. It’s just not enough sample to crown him as a successful manager just yet. He maybe, who knows. He has started fine. That’s all I will say. Not making hasty comments like ‘ The secret of his success’. I am like, what success?

        BTW, you also said, AVB would never had guided Chelsea past Napoli. I’ll note this as your opinion, since you are not the author and better not reply on this.

      2. As a Stoke City fan, I could relate that Chelsea barely beat Stoke City (at home)… who was missing Crouch (illness), Etherington (injury), and a player for 65 minutes (Fuller, who decided that stomping on a Chelsea defender was for some reason, a good idea… and was rightfully red carded). And Chelsea still barely won 1-0. I’m surprised Di Matteo wasn’t sacked early in the second half.

        Chelsea’s victory over Napoli was huge, but one point doesn’t not develop a trend. I absolutely detest judging a coach so early, either to the plus or the negative.

  3. It was quite dumb on the UCL post game show on Fox Soccer when they were asked should Di Matteo get the full time job now.

    1. yes there are 2 separate things going on
      1. Now- Salvage this season- get to 4th place – = dropping back to old strategies and players -that seems to be going well thus far

      2. Future -The reality is the team is aging- and needs to transition sooner than later- their off season is the most vital of any EPL team I think- outside of Arsenal keeping RVP

  4. Any assertion that AVB is the root cause of the bad year Chelsea have had is far from the mark. As great as some of the CFC players have been, they played poorly for Carlo Ancelotti too. He wasn’t even trying to change anything and he was let go.

    The Napoli result was fantastic but that only serves the short term. What happens after this season is crucial to the club and one day Lampard, Drogba, Cole will have to be let go. They fired the man who was told he would have the time to reshape the team.

    The senior members of the squad did not show spirit, support and hunger for AVB. That’s called quitting on your manager. Whether you like AVB or not, that’s just wrong.

  5. Chelesa’s senior citizen squad isn’t going anywhere in the CL. Bayern, Barcelona, Real etc will crush them with devastating effects.

  6. This article is WAY to premature. What has it been, 3 games? I’m not discrediting DiMatteo but he hasn’t proven anything yet.

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