If Roberto Di Matteo wants to have a chance of a successful time leading Chelsea, he must defeat Birmingham City on Tuesday.
Chelsea drew with Birmingham in their first meeting, which prompted this FA Cup replay. Now, Chelsea must travel to St. Andrew's, where Birmingham have only lost twice on the season.
Since the turn of the new year, Chelsea have seemed like a lost club; meanwhile, Birmingham have only lost once. Chelsea may be the bigger, more talented side, but they just might be the underdog.
I'm not going to paint Chelsea as the underdog, but they certainly can't overlook Birmingham. In the last meeting, it seemed like Chelsea weren't ready for the upstart City side.
This time around, Chelsea need to be prepared.
If Chelsea are knocked out of the FA Cup on Tuesday, the season will only get bleaker. By firing Andre Villas-Boas, the club wanted a change.
If Chelsea lose, that change could still be a season away.
Chelsea can't afford to keep sliding. They need to start winning, and they need to start winning now.
It starts at St. Andrew's.
If Di Matteo starts his interim reign off with a victory, things could start looking up for Chelsea.
Birmingham are tough at home, and Chelsea are in desperate need of a quality win. Beating Birmingham at St. Andrew's definitely qualifies as a quality victory.
Chelsea also need to show that things have changed after Villas-Boas' sacking. A win in the first match without him would prove that things are looking up.
Finally, Chelsea need a win because they desperately need confidence. It has been a rough 2012 so far, but there is plenty of time for things to turn around. However, that turnaround needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, this could become a disastrous season.
It is up to Di Matteo to turn this season around. If he wants that to happen, he needs to win his very first match.