May 23, 2012

The Italian Job: How Roberto Di Matteo etched his name in Chelsea's history?
2003, the Russian Rule began. The target one: Conquer Europe. Generals have fallen: Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Villas Boas. A new leader emerged. His gladiators did what David did to Goliath. And finally, victory was theirs.

15 months. Fifteen months is all it takes for someone to take a leap from rock bottom to the heavens. Roberto Di Matteo was fired as the West Brom manager in March to winning the champions league with Chelsea the next year: Such has been the dream run of the Italian.

As he was going up the stairs to collect the winner's medal, he hugged Roman and shrieked, "I won it." The look on Roman's face was priceless. He had finally achieved what he had been targeting for nine long years. And with the help of the least hyped manager Chelsea have had under his era: The Italian  Di Matteo.

Di Matteo inherited a wounded squad from AvB. Morale was at an all time low. Maybe that is what you call rock bottom. That is when the wizard waved his wand and did his magic. well, not quite. He went back to basics. Put faith in the old guard. Took one match at a time. And in 21 matches, he had two cups to boast of: The FA Cup, and the Holy Grail for Chelsea: The European Cup.

It was certainly not as easy at it sounds. But he did the impossible. He won it for the Blues. He won it for a club he has been so loyal to. He just became someone Chelsea fans can never forget in their lifetime.

Ruud Guilt, the Chelsea player manager, when Di Matteo joined as a player, says,
I needed a midfielder, with experience. He was a defensive midfielder. When he came to Chelsea, I had a good defensive midfielder in the form of Dennis Wise, so, I put him a little bit more forward. (The fact that he succeeded is that) he is very calm. It's difficult to make him laugh, but when he laughs, you know, it's a whole room full of laughter.
He goes on, (on whether losing the West Brom job affected his self confidence)

It does. You live with your family there and all of a sudden you're out of a job. Then he joined Chelsea, refusing an offer from an Italian club because he wanted to stay loyal.

Such is the dedication of this guy. He took up the job as an Assistant Manager under AvB and started the season. Maybe he was the 'Good Cop' in the whole Good Cop-Bad Cop show of the management. That could have surely helped. But his tactics are the ones that won it for Chelsea.

Di Matteo's Chelsea may not play the fancy tiki-taka of Barcelona, but defensive solidarity is as beautiful. After all, isn't defense a part of football? Isn't defending an art? Well, that was Chelsea's strength and that is what Di Matteo capitalised on. He made the team turn around to convert the worst season to the best ever!

Zola mentioned that he is arrogant. He is Italian. Italians have always been perfect in defense, not giving away anything silly, hitting on the counter. And that is exactly Chelsea's profile.

Well, Roberto Di Matteo. Take a bow!

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