When Roberto Di Matteo became Chelsea manager at the fag end of last season, no-one expected him to be anything but a caretaker. Winning the FA Cup and Champions League, of course, forced the owner's hand and he got the job on a permanent basis. But Di Matteo was a 'lucky manager'.
No more so than in the Champions League, where improbable victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich were put down mostly to the rub of the green.
Back in August, Di Matteo said that his goal was to win 7 trophies this term, and he was going for it. Chelsea promptly lost the Charity Shield to Manchester City, and were given a lesson by Atletico Madrid, who thrashed them 4-1 in the UEFA Supercup. Had Di Matteo's 'luck' finally run out ?
The Premier League started, however, with victories over lowly Wigan and Reading (lucky manager who faces those teams in the first two games of the domestic season), then Newcastle (lucky they had just come back from a midweek Europa Cup game), and then a scrappy draw against QPR. But, hey, 10 points out of a possible 12 and Chelsea were top of the League. Lucky Roberto Di Matteo.
But over the last few days of September, Di Matteo has proved that he is much more than a lucky manager. Victory over Stoke (no mean feat), thrashing Wolves in The Capital One Cup, and then going to the Emirates and walking off with all three points.
Just over 6 months after becoming Chelsea manager, Di Matteo has the FA Cup and Champions League to his name, has progressed to the 4th round of the Capital One Cup (where they will be favourites to beat Manchester United), and has Chelsea sitting pretty on top of the Premier League. Isn't it about time people stopped talking about Di Matteo as a 'lucky manager', and recognised that his tactical nous and man-management skills have turned Chelsea back into the team everyone has to beat ?
image: © ajenks