Sympathy for the Devil: Di Matteo’s sacking a disgrace
Yesterday evening began with the rumour that Chelsea were playing a catenaccio. Literally translated as the “door-bolt”, you’d probably know it better as the 5-2-3, or a super defensive version of Wigan’s formation. Clearly Roberto Di Matteo returning to his roots.
But there was no truth to it: Chelsea played with the 4-2-3-1 like everyone was expecting them to, and lost. Not for lack of trying, they were simply not good enough.
The Old Lady was a joy to behold using a fluid 3-5-2: three classy defenders given license to roam forward if they wished to; a hard working midfield four with both the guile and the bite to surge forward and press back when needed. All of this knit together by a peerless Andrea Pirlo.
Chelsea, on the other hand, didn’t look short of discipline, fight, or even class: they looked short on the luck that followed them last season. Hazard could only hit the side netting, Mata and Oscar fell over when presented with shooting opportunities, Ramires couldn’t get a foothold on the game. Nothing too disgraceful – they were merely outplayed by a team that’s lost twice in 18 months. It happens.
So why is Roberto Di Matteo unemployed as of this morning?
Roman’s itchy trigger finger was legendary even before today, but one would have thought that two trophies in less than a year would give RDM some immunity from a bad patch. But it seems that Roman’s incomprehensible logic strikes again.
It’s not like Di Matteo was going against the club’s established playing style and his own instincts as a manager at the request of the club’s owner, who wished to be entertained.
It’s not like Di Matteo was attempting to do this without the backing of many of the senior squad that formed the backbone of his previous success due to problems beyond his control.
It’s not like Di Matteo was a club legend, who had the players onside and willing to fight for him.
You could argue that given the money spent this season, Roman expected results and wasn’t seeing them. But it’s November. Chelsea are high up the table, into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, and may still qualify from Europe if Juve and Shakthar don’t treat their game like a friendly kick-about down Power League.
Compare to Brendan Rodgers, who’s ‘taking time to implement his philosophy’ at Liverpool, or Andre Villas-Boas, who, despite constant media pressure, seems pretty damn secure in his job at Spurs.
The fact of the matter is, Abramovich blew his load too early. Sacking the manager after a bad result away from home isn’t rational, or even risky; it’s pretty much suicidal, considering they’re playing the champions this weekend.
No top manager with two brain cells would go near the Chelsea job, at the risk of being sacked for losing a pre-season friendly against Grimsby Town or something, unless they’re offered a hilariously large pay packet. But that may happen; I guess it is possible to have more money than sense.
No matter how I feel about Chelsea as a football club, it’s clear to me what this is.
As their old boy Didier would say, it’s a disgrace.