It was supposed to be so simple. Andre Villas-Boas' ill-fated reign had come to an end and there was nobody available at the time to legitimately fill the boots of the manager of Chelsea football club. Fans were nervous, could we have stuck with AVB for a bit longer? Who would do a better job then and there? What about 'the project'? There were horrifying mentions of Rafa Benitez in the press, unthinkable. But no, there was no need to worry. Uncle Roman had it all under control. Robbie Di Matteo, current Assistant Coach at Chelsea, would become Interim First Team Coach and grind out results to rescue our league, abandoning 'nice' football for the moment in favour of, you know, winning games of football. Then, at the end of the season, we would start a new era of blue success with a big name at the helm.
But then he only went and did really, really well. He only went and won the Champions League, the dream trophy of Abramovich and indeed anyone connected to Chelsea. The path to the next permanent Chelsea manager had taken a twist many thought impossible a few months prior. Surely now Robbie Di Matteo, albeit young and inexperienced, now as a man who'd led a disheveled and dismissed squad to the most prestigious trophy in club football, would automatically begin a permanent tenure at his favourite club. Not necessarily. Like so much in football, there are two sides to the coin that decides whether RDM now gets the all but vacant managerial slot, which I will try to explain.
There is no doubt that RDM's achievements in the Champions League and FA Cup are sensational, and deserve to be celebrated. They only served to help his case in getting the permanent job, as without success in Munich he would have been no where near the position. But the way in which we won it, criticised wherever we travelled for playing 'anti-football,' and riding our luck against the poorly taken penalties and struck posts against Bayern, Barca and Liverpool. RDM in many ways gave up on the league, fielding weakened teams against Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool, putting all our eggs in one Champions League sized basket. Whilst it paid off in the end, the grapevine of social media showed how far from clear cut it was RDM would get his dream job. If I had a dollar for every time I saw "Surely he's got to," in an incredulous way, in the days following May 19th, I'd be able to buy a club and hire RDM myself. One of Abramovich's goals had been achieved, but it was the one that was meant to come second, after we sorted out the dream style of football.
We can see, at the time of writing, where our squad is going at least. Abramovich is doing a great job from distracting us from the fact we have no manager with the eye-catching and mouth-watering prospects of Hazard and Hulk, and they would be just as good in themselves under RDM as with anyone else.
But RDM simply isn't want Abramovich wants. Even with his successes, Abramovich can see the flukes we exploited to get to where we are today. You can tell this from the constant rumours of Roman trying to buy Pep out of his sabbatical, Eddie Newton's coy attitude to questions on his future, and RDM's philosophical approach to similar questions in interviews around the time of Munich. Whilst if given the chance RDM could prove to be a tactical genius, it could also be a total flop, with the worry being that RDM can't create an effective attacking style and is exposed say, halfway through the season as being far from ready for the challenge of managing a side trying to not only retain a Champions League trophy and win a domestic league, but also to do it effectively.
As I've hopefully illustrated above the decision isn't as simple as saying "Robbie is a champion, he must carry on" or "Buy Pep, at any cost, we must be Barca." Everyone is in agreement however that it is an important discussion and an appointment that needs to be made soon. It may happen after the Euros, when some national managers will no doubt step down or be sacked.
So what are your thoughts on this important matter? Is RDM the perfect man for the job, and Roman is worrying too much? Is RDM the best man available for the job, even if not the perfect option? Should we throw everything at getting Pep, or someone comparable? Or does it not matter who gets the job, as long as we continue to get the best players.
Below is a poll of the top 10 favourites for the job according to Oddschecker.com, and there's some surprising mentions on there. There's also Vicente Del Bosque, whose addition is purely down to a madcap theory of mine. If Spain disappoint in the Euros, there's a good chance Del Bosque will step down. His natural replacement, even if not immediate, would be Pep. Vicente's tactics are masterful, and if our current signings continue to be comparable to the Galacticos era at Real Madrid that he masterminded, he could be a brilliant fit, even as an older gent. It's a bit of an off the wall shout, but worth mentioning.
What do I think? Well half the reason for taking the plunge with this article was to hear more opinions on the subject, but to conclude my heart says to keep RDM on, due to his strong links to the club and obviously his success after such a crappy first half to the season. It was an amazing turnaround. My head though worries about the risk of putting an inexperienced manager who had luck on his side when playing ultra-defensively in charge of a side trying to play football trying to achieve whilst being entertaining to watch.