Success on the quiet
Frank Sinclair never predicted that "quiet man" Roberto di Matteo would make it as a manager.
Last Updated: 05/05/12 12:23pm
Frank Sinclair never predicted Roberto di Matteo would be a successful manager - because he was such a quiet player.
The former Chelsea defender played alongside the Italian between 1996 and 1998 and they were both part of the Blues side that won the FA Cup in 1997.
Di Matteo returns to Wembley for another FA Cup Final on Saturday, this time as interim manager, having been placed in charge of the club following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
Sinclair went to visit him and his assistant boss Eddie Newton after Chelsea's quarter-final win over Leicester - and he says he's still as understated as he used to be.
"I was in his office after the Leicester game because Eddie Newton is a big pal of mine," Sinclair told Soccer AM.
"I shared half an hour with him in the office and just as Robbie was really quiet as a player, he didn't have much to say when I was in his office.
"Him and Mark Hughes were very quiet around the changing rooms, but we had some big characters there - Dennis Wise, Gus Poyet and Franck Leboeuf had a lot to say all the time.
"Them two were really quiet, Robbie and Mark Hughes, and you wouldn't have thought they'd be where they are now."
Di Matteo has enjoyed managerial success with MK Dons and West Brom, but few predicted he would make the impact that he has since stepping into the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
The club only lost two of his 17 games in charge ahead of the FA Cup Final - and he has guided them to the Champions League Final following an epic semi-final win over Barcelona.
And Sinclair believes his former team-mate's honesty has been key to Chelsea's revival.
"He's totally turned the season around," he added.
"It was a dour place at the time he took over and he's changed everything around. You'd have to ask him how.
"He's gone in and spoke to the players individually and been honest with where he thought they were.
"A few people had to have a look in the mirror and start playing up to the potential they had.
"It's how you treat players. I think Robbie's put his arm around a few that he's had to and it seems to have worked."
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has not confirmed whether Di Matteo will be given the job on a full-time basis this summer, but Sinclair believes he has earned the chance.
He said: "It's hard to try and second guess the owner because he keeps his cards quite close to his chest. He doesn't express to the press what his thoughts are.
"I certainly think he deserves it, along with the Chelsea supporters. Everyone thinks he deserves it.
"He's been good, he's been a different class and when you look at what's been asked of him since he's taken over the boys I don't think he could have done much better than what he has."