It's been absolutely mental 48 hours and while we've had a dearth of posts on WAGNH, many others were chiming in on the events that have unfolded. Here follows a small, but significant sample; feel free to chime in with others in the comments.
ACT I - Exposition
CSI Stamford Bridge - The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton had this one all figured out (including Cesar Azpilicueta's surprise start). Good luck hanging on to that source, Neil. Ride it while it's hot!
But Di Matteo sensed the end was coming long before his 42nd and last game in charge. As early as last summer, when he dared question the strength of Torres’ ambition at Chelsea, the European Cup-winning coach was left in no doubt about who is actually in charge at Stamford Bridge.
"An easy decision for the club to make" - The Independent's Sam Wallace further supports the point that this has been coming for some time. As usual, his take on the events smacks of plenty of common sense:
It was easy because Di Matteo was simply not delivering on the key objective set out to him in the summer – a failing he had been warned about consistently this season. That objective was, The Independent has learned, to develop a distinctive style and vision for the club that reflected what the board considered as Chelsea’s status as one of the biggest, most high-profile clubs in the world. The club wanted an ambitious, attacking team. The weak, confused capitulation to Juventus on Tuesday night was simply the final straw.
"A great bloody shambles, we know what we are" - Plains of Almeria is always worth a read and Sam P's take on what the Di Matteo sacking means is no exception.
There is little recognition of achievement, of the benefits of stability and continuity, of the feelings of those who pay good money to follow the team over land and sea. There is only ruthlessness, a merciless obsession with being better at any cost. Some might view this as a positive and point to our brimming trophy cabinet as evidence that it works out fine in the end, but for how much longer can the club stagger from one callous drama to another without it having a lasting detrimental effect?
So what's the plan,
Stan Roman? - Writing for ESPN FC, Gabriele Marcotti ponders this question in the hours immediately following the most surprising sacking yet of the Roman Era:
You will no doubt hear a whole load of anti-Abramovich stuff being thrown around right about now, much of it having to do with how he's "trigger-happy" because he sacked eight managers in less than nine years. Strictly speaking, those numbers are misleading.
But you can't give the club the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Carlo Ancelotti, the double winner who had Fernando Torres and David Luiz thrown into his lap unsolicited. Nor, by any stretch, can you do it with Di Matteo.
But what does go on inside Roman Abramovich's head? - Jonathan Wilson sheds his tactical nous for a minute and goes deep-sea diving amongst the owner's misfiring(?) neurons as the early hints of a certain Spaniard getting the nod start rolling in:
You never trusted him. You never thought he was all that. You only ever wanted him to fill in while you tried to find somebody to replace that Portuguese bloke who seemed a bit like the other Portuguese bloke but wasn't really. You knew what would happen. Yes, yes, everybody's criticising you for sacking him but really your mistake was appointing him.
Rafa wouldn't leave his full-backs exposed: the pepper grinder would cover for him. At least that's what you think he meant at that lunch. Rafa would organise them. Rafa would sort them out. Rafa's won the Champions League in spectacularly unlikely fashion: he's basically Roberto with worse dress sense, more pictures of the Wirral at sunrise and more tactics. Especially more tactics.
ACT II - Rising Action
Chelsea hire...umm...Rafael Benitez? - SB Nation, ironically, has two Liverpool blogs (something something, care to walk together, maybe?); incidentally, their reactions were pretty much the polar opposite of each other. Anfield Asylum's list of the good and the bad that Benitez brings to the table is heavily weighted towards the latter:
...I can't quite understand this. He has had a tumultuous relationship with many other Premier League managers and with the Chelsea fans, many of which don't want him. I just can't see how this can or will work out, especially because he doesn't have three letter initials. The EPL is not the same league as when he left it. Sorry, Chelsea fans, this isn't looking good for you, but it could be worse. It could have been Mark Hughes.
On the other hand, The Liverpool Offside is clearly a bigger fan of the ex-manager; although they, too, were quite puzzled at the whole thing overall.
Club out of touch with its fans? - Friend of the blog Dan Levene, writing for Goal.com (whaaa?), comments on the initial fan reaction in social media and just why that reaction has been so severe:
People have talked of their shame at the club's actions, and their sense of loss arising from the dismissal of someone they coinsidered one of their own.
This sacking hurts. The sackings of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti hurt too, but this seems to have hurt more. Because he was a link with the old Chelsea; because of what we went through together.
It is understood the Spaniard wasn't yet comfortable at having to speak so much given he still knew so little of his new job. It did, however, leave a lot of uncertainties throughout a press conference in which he was amiable but still a little on-guard.
Meanwhile, here's Sam Wallace again, this time to detail the confidence and the bravado that the new manager displayed in the face of a fully packed media room:
It was not the performance of a man concerned about what the Chelsea supporters might think when he takes his place in the Stamford Bridge home dugout at 4pm on Sunday for that crucial Premier League game against Manchester City. It was the Benitez of old: unflappable, a man on whom it is impossible to land a blow and one who responded to the toughest questions with a wry amusement.
ACT III - The Climax
Well, I suppose we'll just have to wait until Sunday, won't we? Before then, here's Zonal Marking's Michael Cox on something football tactics related that contains many mentions of 4-2-3-1 and Fernando Torres. Hurray?
Let's close with a musical number instead, shall we?