LONDON: Roberto Di Matteo insisted he was looking no further than the Champions League climax to the season after Chelsea’s interim manager celebrated the Blues’ FA Cup Final dismissal of Liverpool at Wembley writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Chelsea’s form improved formidably after their former midfielder was rushed in after the midterm sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas had prompted increasing speculation that he might land the job on a permanent basis.
Russian owner Roman Abramovich is reported to have approached Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Laurent Blanc but winning the FA Cup was clearly a useful addition to Di Matteo’s cv.
However, asked about his personal feelings, he insisted: “It’s as irrelevant as it was seven or weeks ago. I’m pleased with my position to the end of the season and then the boss will make his decision about what is best for the club and we’ll all respect that.
“I’m very happy for the players. We’ve had a difficult season and a lot of criticism and the players responded to all the adversity we have faced. I’ve been pleased with the performance of all our players. Our record lately against Liverpool hasn’t been the best but we did very well for the majority of the game and scored two very nice goals.
“When Andy Carroll came on he caused us some problems with his physical presence and they started to cross more balls. When they got one back it was always going to be a bit nery towards the end.”
Di Matteo considered that the players had given a perfect answer to suggestions that too many were too old, saying: “It’s always the best way – to give your answers out on the pitch.”
On his own record, as a winning player and now manager, he said: “I don’t think many people have had my opportunities. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to play for this club and win this trophy and now to lead this team out to win as a coach. That doesn’t happen too often but the players did really well and I’m very happy for them.
“AVB should get some credit for this victory because he started this run in the FA Cup.”
Match-winning striker Didier Drogba described victory as “the first step” in the club’s ‘finals double’ after becoming the first player to score in four FA Cup Finals. He said: “Liverpool are a difficult team to play. Today we achieved a great result because, after losing the game against Newcastle, it was very difficult for us. I’m glad we won today. It’s the first step.”
Goalkeeper Petr Cech believed the officials were right to deny Liverpool an equaliser after he had pushed an Andy Carroll header against the underside of the bar. Cech said: “I don’t think it was over the line. If the ball had been behind the line I couldn’t have kept it out. I’m 100pc sure it was not in, and I felt that from the first moment.”
Chelsea captain John Terry felt the victory was a perfect response to the Blues’ critics at the end of a mixed season which included the midterm dismissal of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Terry said: “This is what we live for. It was a great performance. At times people have slated us, saying we’re too old, past it, not together. But when the chips are down we come together and we’ve done that superbly.”
As for Di Matteo’s prospects of landing the manager’s job on a permanent basis, Terry added: “We’ve done Robbie the world of good, we’ve put in a fantastic performance for him and it can’t do him any harm.”
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