Di Matteo not planning overhaul
Di Matteo inspired the Blues to the greatest triumph in their
history last term when he tore up Villas-Boas’ blueprint for change
and was rewarded with a Champions League and FA Cup double.
Villas-Boas had been tasked by billionaire owner Roman
Abramovich with transforming the way Chelsea played, the Russian
said to have long held a dream of seeing ‘Barcelona in blue
The attempt backfired spectacularly and Di Matteo was allowed to
go back to basics to save the club’s season.
The ?66million splashed out on the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar
and Marko Marin since the Champions League success suggest
Abramovich remains determined to get Chelsea playing more
But Di Matteo, whose appointment on a full-time basis was only
confirmed after persistent reports linking the Blues with outgoing
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, has hinted he would not fall into the
same trap as Villas-Boas and try to change too much, too soon.
“There won’t be radical changes,” he said.
“Certainly, with the influence of the new players once they are
integrated, they will be a bit different because they have
different characteristics and abilities.
“I know we need to win games as well.
“But I don’t think you can expect a completely different Chelsea
“The majority of the team are still here and, with those
players, the club have been very successful already.”
Di Matteo refused to be drawn on whether he had learnt from the
mistakes of Villas-Boas, saying: “I don’t really want to go back
over that too much.”
But he added, tellingly: “I repeat myself – I don’t think
there’ll be radical changes overnight here.”
That would appear to include not trying to force Chelsea’s stars
into a style of play that does not suit them.
“Everybody would like to play like Barcelona, but the reality is
there isn’t another team in the world who play like them,” Di
“It’s a culture, a way of life, a style they’ve produced through
the club for many, many years.
“The aim for a lot of teams and clubs is to get there.
“But, as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t one who plays like
Barca. And there’s only one Lionel Messi around.”
Despite the phenomenal character Chelsea showed en route to the
Champions League, their negative tactics in victories over
Barcelona and Bayern Munich were condemned in some quarters.
Di Matteo launched a strong defence of his side’s attacking
performances in other matches, including thumping wins over
Tottenham and QPR and insisted it was difficult to maintain that
over the course of a whole season.
Regardless of how Chelsea play, the number one priority once
again this term will be to win silverware and Di Matteo declared
his players were hungry for even more, starting with the Community
Having finally won the Champions League – theirs and
Abramovich’s Holy Grail – the biggest danger for Di Matteo and his
squad may be motivating themselves to do it all over again.
But that was never likely at a club owned by the Russian.
“His will to win has never decreased at any moment,” Di Matteo
“He wants to win, and he backs it up.”
Chelsea have an unprecedented seven trophies to go for this
season, starting in Sunday’s traditional curtain-raiser against
Manchester City, which is being played this year at Villa Park.
“Our biggest aim, or our ambition, is to be able to be
challenging at the right end of the season for the trophies that
are still available,” Di Matteo said.
“We are going to be in a couple of competitions which are new to
us, so they’re an opportunity for the club and the players, but we
certainly have to do better in the Premier League.”
That means cutting the 25-point gap to Manchester City, whose
squad Villas-Boas infamously said last season was a “lot better”
Not so now but Di Matteo said: “They’re last season’s
“They’ll be the team to beat, even though United were very close
“Those two teams are probably a little bit ahead, but the
champions we want to chase.”