Chelsea FC: Is Roberto Di Matteo the Right Manager for Blues?

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterApril 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03:  Roberto Di Matteo of Chelsea speaks during a press conference prior to the Champions League Quarter final, second leg match between Chelsea and Benfica at Stamford Bridge on April 3, 2012 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The descriptions of Roberto Di Matteo during his short reign as Chelsea's caretaker manager haven't always been flattering.

There are some who would call him a figurehead, a managerial veneer or little more than the veterans' viceroy.

Others would say he's a lame duck, a placeholder keeping the throne warm for Roman Abramovich's next high-profile victim.

But as Chelsea's resurgence heads to the brink of the Champions League semifinals, is it time to start calling him something else?

As in, the right man for the job?

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Andre Villas-Boas the Chelsea manager watches from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on February 25, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mas
Clive Mason/Getty Images

This much is certain: As each day passes, more evidence comes to light that Di Matteo's predecessor was not the right man.

Writing in the London Evening Standard, Simon Johnson reveals a nickname the Chelsea players had invented for Andre Villas-Boas during his nightmarish tenure at Stamford Bridge.

From his first day in charge, Di Matteo has applied basic man-management skills to heal the wounds caused by the man some referred to as ‘DVD’. All the players have been told they have a chance of playing and, significantly, two of their best performers in recent weeks, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou, were previously ignored.

The nickname derives both from AVB's anagram nickname and his duties under former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as a video compiler.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea shakes hands with Roberto Di Matteo during a training session prior to the Champions League Quarter final, second leg match between Chelsea and Benfica at Stamford Bridge on April 3, 2012 in London, Un
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Tame as the nickname might have been, it showed that the players were unhappy with Villas-Boas. Under Di Matteo, that has not been an issue.

According to midfielder Ramires via the Guardian, Chelsea's players have rediscovered their confidence. The reason for that, he says, is Di Matteo.

In contrast Di Matteo's more diplomatic approach has been welcomed even by fringe players and the mood within the squad has improved beyond recognition. "The fact that we are winning also helps," said (Di Matteo), who has no major injury concerns ahead of the second leg. "That helps improve the confidence within every major player and within the group. There are players who, maybe, haven't had many chances or hadn't played as much but who are now getting more game-time and expressing themselves at a very good level.

To some, all the positive reinforcement and equal-footing diplomacy might read like a page out of a hippie handbook. But it's hard to argue with results.

Using the same players as Villas-Boas, Di Matteo has revived the club's fortunes in a short amount of time.

The work is far from finished, of course. The Blues still must find a way to finish fourth in the league and face a congested fixture list in the end-of-season run-in.

But the players have made it clear they like Di Matteo, and he has reportedly indicated he would like to stay with Chelsea according to the Daily Mail.

After going through a laundry list of managers in less than a decade, Abramovich would be wise to take a different approach this time.

This time, the key might be listening to his players.


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