After last night's defeat to Juventus in the Champions League, it left Chelsea's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knock-out stages hanging by a thread. It means that now they must rely on other results in order to qualify, which is never advisable in the unpredictable game of soccer. Di Matteo set up his side to defend and hit Juventus on the break, with Torres dropping to the bench in what was seen as a bold move. In the game, Chelsea were outplayed for most of it, with only a few chances coming their way in front of goal. The fact that this was supposed to be a defensive set-up and Chelsea lost 3-0 was worrying.
After the game, Di Matteo didn't appear from the dressing room for 40 minutes as it's obvious that he was clearly hurting from this defeat. In his post-match press conference he looked deflated and a worried man. As a Chelsea fan, I laughed off the pressure that was being put on him in the papers as merely 'paper talk'. I mean, how could Chelsea seriously consider sacking the man who had won the Champions League for the first time with the club almost 6 months ago to the day. Then I woke up this morning and discovered my worst nightmare. Robbie had gone.
This leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth for me, and almost makes me feel sick. Having spoken to fans of Chelsea and other clubs, we're all in agreement that this outcome is an absolute travesty. It makes me feel embarrassed to be a Chelsea supporter today. Di Matteo had steadied the ship after taking over from Andre Villas-Boas in March, and had led the club on the greatest journey in their history, ending in a maiden Champions League in the most dramatic of circumstances, and yet another FA Cup. The man is a Chelsea legend is a player, but has put himself into Chelsea folklore with the triumphs last season.
Chelsea fans over the last few years have had to watch managers come and go, each one leaving them stunned and confused. Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Hiddink, Ancelotti, AVB and now Di Matteo. Of all the managers to go, this one will probably hit Chelsea fans the hardest. When Mourinho was sacked there was an inevitability about it. Jose clearly wasn't happy at the club and with the lack of power he had over the transfers, but the writing was on the wall for a while. Ancelotti was unexpected also, sacked after leading the club to their first ever league and cup double, whilst playing some of the best football ever seen in the Premier League. Many of the others hurt and left a sadness, with the exception maybe of Scolari and Grant, but Di Matteo's departure really hurts.
This is a man who found Chelsea the holy grail, the trophy they'd been after for so long, after so much heartbreak, and now he was gone. It was clear in the summer that Abramovich wanted Guardiola to take the reins, but with Pep determined to take a years sabbatical, he turned to Di Matteo. This appointment was met with joy from Chelsea fans, as this was a guy who loved Chelsea FC and the first manager under the Abramovich era who had played for the club as well.
This put him in a different league to other managers. It's very good winning trophies with any manager. But to win trophies with a manager who played for the club for many years, and who cared about the club, it was a fairytale. But now that's over. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that he's been sacked with the club not even in the worst position. 3rd in the league, just 4 points behind leaders Manchester City, who they play at the weekend, as well as being in the quarter-finals of the League Cup. If this decision has been made on the Champions League result, it would seem pointless considering there's not much Chelsea can do but hope that Juventus lose in order to still qualify. The club state that results weren't good enough at the club, and yet a month ago they were beating Tottenham 4-2 away and Arsenal 2-1 away. Ridiculous.
Chelsea fans must now know that Rafael Benitez is the man to replace Di Matteo. In the space of 12 hours, Chelsea fans have gone from having a Chelsea legend as our manager, the man who won our maiden Champions League, to a man who is despised by the fans. Benitez alienated himself massively with the Chelsea fans after some of the comments he made during his tenure at Liverpool, with many heated encounters between the two clubs. This included him questioning the Chelsea fans' passion, stating it was worse than Liverpool's. Now these are the same fans he must win over if he's going to make life easy for himself at Chelsea. Many Chelsea fans will just be pleased that it's only until the end of the season. Very small consolation though.
Chelsea fans worst nightmare. That's what Benitez is. As a season ticket holder, and a fan attending on Sunday, I'll definitley be making my voice heard over this outrageous decision. The farce of managers at Chelsea FC continues, and I have to say, it's almost enough to make you fall out of love with the club. This is not how a football club should be run. Managers need to be given longer than 6 months to build the team the way they want, and bring success to the club. Chelsea fans want a manager who will be at the club for years, not months. They really thought they had that in Di Matteo, who was almost deemed 'unsackable' after winning 2 trophies in May. How wrong we were.
As one of those lucky enough to go the game in Munich in May, it's a night that Chelsea fans will never forget. History was made that night, all done to Di Matteo. No one will be able to take away the fact that he was the first manager to win the big eared trophy for Chelsea. 6 months on, that man is gone. As a Chelsea fan I really hope that Di Matteo succeeds wherever he goes, and shows the world what a great manager he is, and that last season wasn't a fluke. The footballing world now hold their breath, and waits to see who the next stop gap manager will be.