TURIN: Chelsea have sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo after slipping to the brink of becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out in the group stage the next season.
The Blues’ reaction to their conclusive 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin underlined once more that the challenge for the club’s manager – whatever his name – is to generate positive results while simultaneously produce entertaining football.
Di Matteo had achieved both for oligarch owner Roman Abramovich. Last season he produced the ultimate result in guiding Chelsea to glory in the UEFA Champions League; this season Chelsea began the campaign playing some of their finest football in years
However, Di Matteo’s dimissal has endorsed a rewriting of Abraham Lincoln’s statement, suggesting you can meet all of your targets some of the time and some of your targets all of the time but you can’t meet all of Roman’s targets all of the time.
Unfortunately for Di Matteo, his Chelsea proved unable to keep Abramovich happy on both fronts simultaneously: their new entertaining football is not producing results. The departure for China of Didier Drogba plus the recent absences of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard (injuries) and gap left by skipper John Terry’s injury and suspension proved crucial.
Di Matteo had not, contrary to appearances, been able to succeed with the regeneration strategy which proved beyond Andre Villas-Boas last season.Chelsea still rely heavily on their veterans. In their absence Chelseahave forgotten the backs-to-the-wall, siege mentality football which proved too much for Barcelona and Bayern last season.
Thus, after their beating in Turin, Chelsea must win their final group game against Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridgeand hope that Shakhtar Donetsk can beat Juventus in Ukraine. Should Juventus draw that game or even win it, Chelsea will be out of the competiton.
Di Matteo arrived in Turin already facing speculation over his own future after four Premier League games without a win.
The pressure has now engulfed him and just ahead of Sunday’s huge home match against Manchester City. It is no secret that Abramovich intends to make Pep Guardiola an offer he cannot refuse again.
A key failing on which Di Matteo may ultimately reflect was his inability to draw the best out of hapless Fernando Torres. The £50m man’s Chelsea career sunk to a new depth when he was left among the substitutes for most of Tuesday’s match.
The ideal solution might be for Chelsea, in January, to persuade Atletico de Madrid to sell them Radamel Falcao in exchange for ‘old boy’ Torres and perhaps a £10m balance. But here, as in the Premier League on Sunday, Chelsea may find they have competition from ManchesterCity.