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Chelsea's Champions League Win Counts For Nothing – Roberto Di Matteo

Roberto Di Matteo has told his Chelsea players that last season's Champions League triumph counts for nothing.

The manager called for renewed focus as the club prepared for the Community Shield against Manchester City at Villa Park and he did not subscribe to the view that the epic victory over Bayern Munich would serve to relieve any of the pressure. Di Matteo feels it will be more intense during the forthcoming campaign and not only because the chairman, Bruce Buck, has said that Chelsea ought to be winning more Champions Leagues.

"The Champions League success is part of the past, it's done and dusted now and we have to look to the present and forget about it," Di Matteo said. "It's going to be a new start, with new challenges, and it's going to be difficult for us. Everybody will probably raise their game against us as well.

"The pressure at a club like this, a big club, is always there. You try to win despite what happened last year. We all know that, from day one of pre-season, it was a fresh start. We had a good experience together and, hopefully, there will be plenty more."

Di Matteo experienced a whirlwind finale to last season, when he went from being the assistant manager of a struggling Chelsea in March to the club's first Champions League-winning manager in May. He also won the FA Cup. Di Matteo repeatedly said towards the end of last season that he needed a holiday but, having enjoyed one with his family, he feels "fully recharged and ready to go". His priority will be to push for the Premier League title, after the club finished 25 points off the pace last season, but the challenges come on all fronts. Chelsea contest the European Super Cup against Atlético Madrid on 31 August and the World Club Cup in December.

"You need to put your targets high and try to achieve them or get as close as you can," Di Matteo said. "It's been very difficult to get the first Champions League, so we will just try and do our best to be competitive in the competition again."

Di Matteo, in typically measured mood, said it was wrong to expect "radical" or "overnight" changes to the team's style, despite the purchase of the creative midfielders Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar for a combined £64m and the possibility of a further attacking addition. Di Matteo admitted the squad was "light" in the striker department where, with Romelu Lukaku set to be loaned out, he has only Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge. Marin has a hamstring injury, while Oscar has not joined up because of his involvement with Brazil at the Olympics. The manager will be hard pushed to accommodate all of his attacking midfielders but the issue is not yet pressing. "You need to get the best out of the players that you have," Di Matteo said. "Everybody has his identity and style and we have ours."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for The Observer on Saturday 11th August 2012 23.00 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Jason Bagley

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