Just the job for Rob
Roberto Di Matteo is in pole position to become permanent Chelsea boss, says Jonathan Northcroft.
Last Updated: 06/05/12 12:28pm
Chelsea's FA Cup final win has put Roberto Di Matteo in pole position to become permanent Blues boss, according to Jonathan Northcroft, of the Sunday Times.
Caretaker boss and former Blues midfielder Di Matteo has yet to learn if he has done enough since taking over from former manager Andre Villas-Boas to land the job full-time.
Chief executive Ron Gourlay remains tight-lipped on the subject but Northcroft says the Italian must be in the driving seat having already bagged a domestic trophy ahead of Chelsea's Champions League final clash against Bayern Munich on May 19.
"The players would love him to get the job," he told the Sunday Supplement. "The relationship he has fostered with the dressing room there is maybe the key factor behind the success that they've enjoyed since he took over.
"I was lucky enough to spend some time with Di Matteo at his flat this week and he spoke a lot about communication - it's very important to him. His managerial heroes were Arrigo Sachi, who was a great talker, Dino Zoff who he said had fantastic man-management skills and who, of course, handled Gazza so well when he was at Lazio.
"I think what Di Matteo had to do when he took over at Chelsea was repair a dressing room whose relationship was really broken down with the management thanks to the mistakes of Andre Villas-Boas.
"Villas-Boas was doing things like holding team meetings where anything was supposed to be open for discussion. Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole would then say their piece and get dropped because he didn't like it. There was really no trust by the end of it between the players and the manager.
"Di Matteo talked a lot to me about how he has gone about trying to repair that. The first thing he did was have a team meeting and he's had one-on-ones with all the players and you can see the effect on someone like Fernando Torres, in particular, who feels he's got Di Matteo's confidence.
"I think the other thing that Chelsea players like is that when you speak to Di Matteo - and it's not great from a journalist's point of view - he hates talking about himself. He wants to talk about the team all the time. The team is succeeding but he's not saying give me the credit; he's saying give the players the credit for this."
Di Matteo scored after just 42 seconds of the 1997 FA Cup final to put Chelsea on track to a 2-0 win versus Middlesbrough and Northcroft explained that such is the former midfielder's appreciation for the London club that he will understand Roman Abramovich's final decision on who gets the full-time manager's job, whether it goes his way or not.
"He respects Chelsea so much - he respects Abramovich's right ot make the decision on the future management.
"It's obvious that he would like it but he's quite philosophical. If he doesn't get it and they bring someone else in and that's best for the club, then he moves on.
"I think that's been really important to him because he's played 18 games in 60 days - massive games - and yet he's been really focused about the game-by-game thing.
"I think if he had started to ponder his own future during this point and wonder what comes next in the summer he would have gone mad - it would have just been too much.
"I think it's swinging that way [to him getting the job] because as we know Abramovich loves Pep Guardiola but Guardiola has given so many signals that he's not ready to come to Chelsea and English football because he wants a sabbatical.
"The other one is Jose Mourinho but he's telling people in Spain that he's staying at Real Madrid and I just can't see the logic in going anywhere else than Di Matteo.
"I don't see what else he could have done. Even if they don't win the Champions League final, just the achievement of beating Barcelona and getting there has been immense. If he had started a few games earlier, they may well be third or fourth in the league now."