The bar is set ridiculously high for Chelsea managers. Mourinho, Chelsea's greatest manager, was sacked after a slow start to the season. Carlo Ancellotti, who after having won the double, came second, was duly sacked as well. Chelsea have had 7 managers in 8 years and that tells its own story. Roberto Di Matteo's position as manager is very tenuous given the fact that he was only offered a one year contract. With Pep Guardiola lurking in the shadows, Di Matteo has to convince Chelsea owner Roman Abrahamovich that his appointment is more than an extended interim assignment. Below are three things he needs to do to earn his stay.
If Di Matteo wants to prove he deserve to be sitting in the managerial hot seat he needs to learn to adapt and evolve with the new players he has. Something he has shown he knows how to do as he guided Chelsea to a cup double. However, a backs-to-the-wall, no pressure, defensive and it must be said, fortunate Chelsea, on a cup run, is vastly different to competing for the league. Chelsea need to know when to be ruthless and when to be cautious. Against instinct, he must avoid what got him success because that mentality was suitable for a different style of players with a different mindset in certain competitions. He must also realise the players bought were done so with the intention Chelsea play a more beautiful and expansive style of football.
2. Make the right signings.
Chelsea would have done with the signing of Luka Modric who could have been their deep lying play-maker and make Chelsea's ball retention stats far higher. Chelsea don't need another winger but they need another back-up striker and the availability of Ba for 7 million would be the perfect purchase. Low-risk, cheap and proven. Talk of signing Hulk or Cavani are expensive and unnecessary purchases. Cavani is a target man like Torres, their styles of play mean playing together is not an option and this would lead to unnecessary tension as none of them would be happy sitting on the bench watching the other on a scoring streak. Sturridge perhaps deserves one more year and with Ba, the forward department will be complete. In addition, a competent right back is needed, someone with more attacking attributes than Ivanovic. César Azpilicueta seems to fit the bill perfectly. A back-up right back and a back-up striker and Chelsea are set.
3. Change his formation
Chelsea starting play from the back seem to lack composure and mobility.The 4-2-3-1 results in space separating the banks of midfielders and attackers particularly when Frank Lampard is paired with Obi Mikel. As a result, ball retention suffers, hopeful balls up top increase when Mikel or the defenders are under pressure, because there are no midfield options close by. Chelsea need to abandon the 4-2-3-1 and play a 4-3-3. They need to do this because 4 of the starting attacking players, Hazard, Mata, Oscar and Torres play their best when the ball is on the ground. Oscar needs to be at the heart of midfield playing slightly in front of the midfielders. He will provide the extra option in midfield and recycle the ball in the area, and with his pass and movement he will seek to go forward and play those penetrating balls that have been so effective in the Olympics. Chelsea must retain the ball and play with a more attacking mindset to suit their recent acquisitions. Gone are the days that Chelsea rely on Drogba and Lampard and Di Matteo's formations need to reflect that.
Roberto Di Matteo has surprised us before but winning the league playing beautiful football, the minimum requirement for him, will surely cement his status as a great manager and may, subject to Abrahomovich's whims, earn a respectable long-term contract.