Chelsea fans have woken up to the news that Roberto di Matteo has been sacked as manager of Chelsea. The former player’s fairy tale reign as manager has come to an abrupt end after four league games without a win and with his side on the brink of a Champions League exit. This is all despite the fact that RDM delivered that all important Champions League victory last May, the importance of which cannot be over stated. Chelsea recorded a profit for the first time for last season, with the Champions League win likely central to an increase in revenue. Without winning the tournament Chelsea would not have been able to sign the likes of Hazard and Oscar for such extravagant fees.
Why was he sacked?
Chelsea’s form has been poor. It is a crisis when a team of that quality goes four games without a league win and is looking set to exit the Champions’ League group stages. But can the blame lie with him? No. Chelsea’s squad is grossly imbalanced. Chelsea lack any real Plan B. The club signed a plethora of attacking midfielders making a 4-2-3-1 the only viable formation. Yes, RDM did get a huge investment, but it was arguably not as good as it looks. Marin has been a complete waste of money, having yet to feature. He is the clubs only natural winger, meaning that a 4-3-3 is an unlikely formation for the club. Hazard and Mata want to play as attacking midfielders, not wingers.
Torres in my opinion got Ancelotti sacked, AVB sacked and now RDM sacked. The Spanish striker’s goal scoring form has been so bad over the last two years that no manager has been able to get the best out of him, or work out what to do with him. Abramovich thrust Torres on Ancelotti despite Drogba being a better forward option. Ancelotti couldn’t fit him in, AVB couldn’t get the best out of him, whilst RDM was left with a misfiring Torres without any viable back up option. Reports claim Chelsea were offered Falcao in the summer but Abramovich naively wanted to persist with Torres, despite his abysmal form. The signing of Torres is significant, I am not attempting to find a scape-goat, it is just indicative of a terrible transfer policy under Abramovich that has put his own wants before the wants of the side. Reminiscent of the signing of Shevchenko, a player completely unwanted by Jose Mourinho in 2006.
The lack of balance is also an issue with regard to Chelsea’s centre-midfield pivot. Arguably a bigger problem area than up front. The combination of Mikel/Lampard worked poorly and now Ramires/Mikel is being exposed. Against Juventus the side were completely over ran by midfield runners into the area occupied by the pivot. Neither Mikel nor Ramires are natural at playing in a two man centre midfield, with the same true of Lampard. Chelsea should have signed a specialist in this role such as Javi Martinez who signed for Bayern Munich.
The defensive woes are also not RDM’s fault, who is to a degree a victim of circumstance. It is not his fault that Terry picked up a four game ban and then got injured at a crucial period. In truth Chelsea’s defensive cover is poor with Cahill and Luiz both looking below par this season. Abramovich is trying to rush through a transitions that should have been overseen a long time ago and in the process is forgetting that in football we need evolution not revolution.
Chelsea will unveil a new manager soon, but who’d be foolish enough to take the job? Rumours of a short term deal for Rafa Benitez are circulating, whilst Guardiola could be the long term target. RDM is a victim of the fact that Abramovich never wanted to make him their permanent manager and was thus always looking for an excuse to sack the Italian manager. With eight managers in ten years Abramovich’s reign has been marred by instability. The club clearly owe him a debt of gratitude for his huge investment but to a degree it is in-spite of his ownership not because of it that the club won the Champions League last season and the club will now enter a period of unrest yet again. Abramovich has still not learnt valuable lessons. The Shevchenko signing should have been a sign not to thrust players onto managers. Whoever replaces RDM will need to be backed with money in January to fix an already imbalanced squad.