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Chelsea To Confirm Roberto Di Matteo As New Manager

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According to the BBC, Chelsea FC are set to confirm that former Italy midfielder Roberto di Matteo has been appointed as the full-time manager (or, in Chelsea-speak, 'first team coach'), and the word is that it's on a one-year contract. The deal will be apparently be announced next week

From my perspective, that's about perfect. Di Matteo is rewarded for becoming the first Blues manager to win the Champions League, Roman Abramovich doesn't have to worry about a crazy financial outlay if the experiment goes wrong and we're still in the hunt for a possible Pep Guardiola play if he becomes available a year from now. Considering the club's rather amusing managerial instability of late*, it's something of a surprise that we've not been doing the short-term contract thing sooner, so there you go.

*This has certainly hurt our ability to win trophies!

Do I think di Matteo is an ideal manager for Chelsea? No. But he hasn't proven that he isn't, either - most of the criticisms I've heard of his style are more... reactionary than well thought out. Has he set out his teams defensively? Yes. But all that proves is that he can play defensive football, not that he must. Has he reversed Andre Villas-Boas' stance on crushing player power? Yes, but that's what Chelsea needed to survive the season.

The main flaw I've seen in assessing di Matteo's tenure is the assumption that the abilities he's shown (defensive play, motivating the senior players) are actually detrimental, as though stifling Barcelona at the Nou Camp implies that he's incapable of throwing men forward against, say, Queens Park Rangers at home. This is silly. It might turn out that di Matteo is too defensive and panders too much to players we'll need to phase out in the near future, but there's no way to know that for sure just yet.

And if I'm going to draw conclusions from a tiny body of work, I think I'd be inclined to look at the trophies he's won over everything else.

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