On the 21st of November 2012, Roberto Di Matteo was sacked as manager of Chelsea football club by the London side’s ever ruthless owner, Roman Abramovich.
This dismissal marked an amazingly short stay at the club for Di Matteo (even by Chelsea’s standards), which spanned just eight months. However, what makes said sacking even more surprising is that in those eight months after taking charge of a struggling Chelsea side, the former West Bromwich Albion manager won not only the FA cup, but the trophy that Abramovich is famously obsessed by: The UEFA Champions League.
Whilst it is arguably the very competition that Di Matteo won that was his downfall following Chelsea’s disappointing 3-0 defeat to Juventus, essentially consigning themselves to an early exit in the competition, I would argue that his dismissal was not only unwarranted but a genuine error on the part of Abramovich.
The Russian has always utilised the policy that unless a manager is getting constant results he must be dismissed and replaced, but this is an extremely unhealthy way to run a football club. His constant desire for results is what prevents Chelsea from winning silverware consistently – and is a policy that led to them finishing fifth in the Premier League last season, meaning that had they not won the competition, they would not have even qualified for this year’s UCL.
By all accounts, Di Matteo had been relatively successful as Chelsea manager. Not only did he win two major trophies, but his side were looking strong this year – whilst they were disappointing in the Champions League, they lie in third in the Premier League and aren’t lagging unhealthily far behind the Manchester clubs.
He also made some shrewd additions to the side; Victor Moses has scored some vital goals for the blues, and Oscar has looked dangerous (if a little prone to falling over).
As such, Di Matteo and many other Chelsea managers deserved much more of a chance. The Champions League isn’t everything, and no manager can craft a team with identity, and flair, things that Abramovich wants, without a great deal of time and money. Constant changing of the managerial guard is simply unsettling to players and conducive to a lack of continuity, and in turn, success.
Letting a manager run with a team and take control through thick and thin (if you have the right man) can be extremely beneficial; Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t have a statue outside Old Trafford for nothing. As such, Di Matteo should have been given more of a chance to prove his worth and build a great team, something I believe he was capable of doing.
Yes, Di Matteo may not have a name like “Guardiola” or “Mourinho”, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have built a team capable of brilliance. Chelsea needs more continuity and Abramovich needs to realise that good things happen to those who wait.