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Chelsea: The impossible job


There goes another one then, and this one has got the Champions League trophy to negotiate over in the divorce settlement.

Roberto di Matteo joins Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Big Phil Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas on Roman Abramovich’s big managerial scrapheap, with the Russian having apparently grown tired of a boss who finally delivered him the trophy he prizes above all others six months ago.

But the Munich memories have faded, with the FA Cup final win over Liverpool apparently a mere footnote in Abramovich’s relentless thirst for success.

They were triumphs which should have bought Di Matteo the time to build and mould a squad in his image, but he always had that air of temporary boss about him; the assistant who stepped into the breach at the club’s hour of need and got lucky.

At most if not all other clubs that would have bought him space and leeway, but Chelsea ceased being like other clubs when Abramovich walked through the door in 2003, with the Russian’s thirst for success never apparently satisfied – much like his approach to riches off the field.

Di Matteo arguably paid the price for losing the same players that Villas-Boas was asked to help Chelsea move away from, with John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard all missing from many of the last few matches for all manner of reasons. Chelsea looked spineless without them, and none more so than in Turin on Tuesday night when their Champions League fate was snatched out of their own hands.

Ultimately that’s perhaps what Di Matteo looked like to Abramovich – spineless. A former boss of MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion who doesn’t bring the CV and glamour to job that Pep Guardiola would.

The Russian will undoubtedly move for the ex-Barcelona boss now – although Rafael Benitez would make an interesting and sensible alternative – but whoever enters Stamford Bridge next will undoubtedly be aware of just what the consequences are if they don’t impress the main man.

Abramovich has created a ruthless atmosphere in his corner of West London; home to what has long been the impossible job.   


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