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Roberto Di Matteo: Do's & Don'ts For 2012-13

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On 13th June 2012, Roberto Di Matteo officially became Chelsea’s new manager. The appointment was given a thumbs-up by Chelsea fans, as most of us believed that the man who led us to our maiden Champions League title should be given the job on a permanent basis.
Di Matteo hardly needs an introduction. He joined the club in 1996 from Lazio & scored 26 goals in 175 appearances for the Blues. He is a man held in high regard by Chelsea fans. After he miraculously turned our season around in 2 months, it became clear that he was a front-runner for the job.
Chelsea’s new manager Roberto Di Matteo

However, being the manager of Chelsea isn’t easy. 7 managers (8 if you include Di Matteo’s interim spell) have been in charge of Chelsea since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003. If Di Matteo wants to avoid the fate of his predecessors, he will have to avoid making the same mistakes they did. Here’s a look at the Do’s & Don’ts for Roberto Di Matteo in the coming season.

Do’s:-

1) Focus on the result– Many people felt that the tactics used by Roberto Di Matteo in some of Chelsea’s matches last season (most notably against Barcelona) were negative, even being branded as “anti-football”. The way I see it, as long as you get the desired result, it doesn’t matter what tactics you use provided they aren’t illegal. Many previous Chelsea managers (most notably Scolari & AVB) focused so much on changing our style of play that it hurt our results, & football is a results business. With players like Marin, Mata & Hazard now part of our squad, one can expect stylish football from Chelsea. Robbie should simply focus on getting the right results.
McEachran: still waiting… 

2) Give youth a chance– I can’t even begin to stress how important it is that we give our younger players a chance. Chelsea is teeming with bright young talent, but what’s the point of having them in the squad if they aren’t given any game time? Players like Sam Hutchinson, Lucas Piazon, Patrick Bamford & Milan Lalkovic (just to name a few) are promising young talents. There are also players like Oriol Romeu, who went missing for a majority of the 2nd half of last season. Josh McEachran is held in high regard by many Chelsea fans, but has barely featured in Chelsea’s starting XI. Considering the fact that we are likely to see the departure of the so-called “Old Guard” (Lampard, Terry, Cech etc) in a few years time, it is important that we have players who are ready to make the step up when required.

3) Squad rotation is a must– This was one thing Robbie excelled at last season. When he took over, Chelsea were still competing for the FA Cup & the Champions League, whilst also playing for 4th place in the Premier League. Even with a squad that was considered past it’s prime by many, he constantly chopped & changed his starting XI depending on the teams we played while ensuring we got the desired results. With Roman looking likely to add more players to the squad, he can expect a squad that has good depth. Considering the fact that we will be involved in 5 major tournaments next season (I’m not even counting the Community Shield & the European Super Cup), he will have to continue to rotate the squad to avoid player fatigue.

Don’ts:-

1) Alienate the “Old Guard”– Ah, the reason for AVB’s demise. The young Portuguese manager was so determined to get Chelsea to play attractive football that he used to field mostly younger players, often leaving the “Old Guard” frustrated. AVB was eventually sacked (as we all know). Robbie kept faith in the “Old Guard”, often starting them in crunch matches & they repaid his faith by winning the FA Cup & the Champions League. They proved that they were still integral to Chelsea FC as a whole, & Robbie must keep the faith in them as long as they are playing for the club. Doing otherwise would bring about his downfall.

2) Extreme reliance on certain players– Last season, Juan Mata was the only creative spark in the midfield. This usually meant that he started almost every game for Chelsea, & whenever he didn’t start, we struggled. Mata was actually so tired  by the end of the season that it reflected in his performances. I don’t blame the Spaniard, but I dreaded watching matches when I knew that Mata was on the bench. It was the same with Ramires. Whenever he didn’t play, we struggled. With quality players being signed this season, I don’t see burn-out as a big headache. But Robbie must recognize who his key players are & make sure that they are well-rested before important games. Winning matches will be a bit easier if that happens.

3) Let the past affect him– This is the most important in the list of “don’ts” for Di Matteo. It’s a known fact that Roman Abramovich is a boss who is as likely to sack managers as he is to spend extravagant sums on players. Chelsea fans are almost used to it now. Robbie’s already seen AVB get the sack, & he can be sure that if he doesn’t live up to Roman’s high standards, he will most likely be fired as well. However, this must not affect him from doing his job.He did a fantastic job for us during the last 2 months of the season, & now that he is the permanent manager, he must pick up where he left off. He’s shown that he has the ability to create teams that can win trophies. If he keeps doing that, he could be at Chelsea for years to come.

I’d like to end by wishing Robbie best of luck. The Chelsea job isn’t an easy one, but he’s defied the odds before, hasn’t he? He will do it again.

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