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You may be wondering where my slide is that discusses how he understands the veterans and he has brought the locker room together. As with most, it is what I have as being the defining achievement of his short-time charge, being able to bring everyone back together and get the most out of his players.
But if I were to write that slide, I would be implying that Villas-Boas was sacked for his failure to connect with the players. That would be naive.
For those who still think that the veterans' stubbornness forced Abramovich to make the hard move to let go of a young up-and-coming manager, you need to reevaluate your position. Yes, the player unrest may have been the ultimate flame that sent the fire out of control, but it was no means what sparked it in the first place.
Let’s not kid ourselves—every single problem Villas-Boas incurred along the way in his short tenure at the Bridge was due to his inability to win. The “players' revolt” was not one fabricated against some kind of false changing of the guard. It was a real struggle for legends that were used to winning, but were being forced to sit on the bench and watch as their team failed.
Lampard was not upset because he was not playing. He was upset because he was not able to help his team win. He had to sit by and watch as match after match his team fell and he was made increasingly obsolete, being played out of position or not at all.
Compare that to this past week. Lampard, Essien and Drogba all sat on the bench. They watched their team get a big win at Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League tie. What was their response following the game?
Drogba: “It is a great result. The most important thing is that we have scored that goal away from home.”
Lampard: "I spoke with Robbie and certainly had no issue with it. I was delighted to get the result we got. I came on in the last 20 minutes, anyway.''
A far cry from the vitriol they were hurling at Villas-Boas not more than a month ago.
Di Matteo is 6-1-1 in his first eight games in charge as the Chelsea manager. Villas-Boas was 5-2-1 in his. Compare the way the players discussed Villas-Boas then, and compare that to Di Matteo now.
We sometimes put too much stock into what players want. We try and think that their selfish greed knows no limits and all they care for is what best suits them. This may be true, but there is one universal that serves every player better than anything else: winning.
As long at Di Matteo continues to win, he will be the best choice to take charge at season's end.