‘Hero to zero’ is an expression used a lot in football, sometimes in an unfair manner. This is certainly the case regarding our Italian boss Roberto Di Matteo. Worshipped by Chelsea supporters for winning the Champions League just over 100 days ago, but now these same supporters are cynically calling for his head and claiming that he is a bad coach.
So is this unjust for a man who once played his heart out wearing the royal blue of Chelsea? I’d say it’s far too early to judge and you cannot possibly be calling Di Matteo a bad coach.
One thing for sure is that Robbie clearly prefers a more stable and defensive approach, which is fine, against the top sides. But my issue is the fact we were playing QPR, a team that we need to be getting 3 points against and really expressing our attacking talents.
RDM once again lined up with left back Ryan Bertrand on the left wing and centre midfielder Ramires playing on the right wing, affectively playing these players out of position. Yes I realise they can do a job there and both of them can be used as cover for those positions, but when you have the likes of Oscar, Moses and Sturridge sat on the bench, why on earth are we using these two as wide men?
Bertrand is quality, a great player who has an excellent future with us, but predominantly he is a left back. As for Ramires, this is really starting to get my back up, all I see whilst reading Chelsea supporters opinions on various websites, is that we all feel Ramires is not a winger and his most affective position is in centre midfield. Yes he had a couple of decent games out there in the Champions League last season, but that’s two games, the rest of the time he just cannot cut it out wide, is one-dimensional and lacks imagination and skill to beat players.
If we (the supporters) can see this and anyone who knows football can see this, why can’t Di Matteo see it? It puzzles me to use such a negative line-up against such a poor team. I’m all for using Bertrand and Ramires out wide when we are up against the best sides, as it provides extra cover with defensive minded and energetic players allowing them to defend as a unit better, but no way should we be using that line-up on a weekly basis, and against QPR.
Oscar is class, one of the best central midfield players around today and so far he has spent his early Chelsea career warming a seat. He must play and must play now, I cannot emphasis that enough. He is the type of player who will sit in the middle of the park and pull the strings, make things happen. I know he is young in terms of age, but in terms of majority, he is more than ready and needs to play every match.
Fernando Torres once again showed his sulky nature when he was drafted off on 81 minutes, storming straight down the tunnel like a little child who did not get what he asked Santa for at Christmas. Understandably he became frustrated at not seeing enough of the ball, this was again down to the line-up, but there is no excuse for throwing your toys out the pram like that.
Another thing that puzzled me was the fact he started Frank Lampard, off the back of playing two impressive performances for England in the space of 4 days, surely he should have been rested for the QPR match? Last season we adopted a rotation system, which I agree with, surely this was a perfect opportunity to use that system again and rotate him for a rest.
I will repeat, I do not think Di Matteo is a bad coach at all, after all, we are still unbeaten and top of the league. But our starting line-up yesterday caused us to play negative, defensive football thus walking away with a goalless draw from QPR. For that, there was only one person to blame, he picks the team, he picks the formation. The players tried and battled, they did what they could as a whole, but you could visibly see that they were struggling to create anything at all and became frustrated with the system.
So where do we go from here? Well I’m pretty sure that Mr.Abramovich, although not being totally clued up on the football side of things, would still have noticed what a negative starting line-up that was to use against a team like QPR and will be having a little chat with Di Matteo regarding this. He just spent millions of pounds on an exciting array of attacking talent, but we aren’t using them, it’s pure madness.
Only Di Matteo will know what the plans are now, but I’m pretty sure with facing Juventus in our next match, it will stay as a defensive line-up. But how long can we expect to watch our side play defensive football on such a regular basis? We need to go out, be disciplined and attacking. We can be fluent and attacking, providing we have the pace and energy to recover into a defensive shape. We can be both defensive and attacking, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
I think it made it even worse for us this weekend with both United and Arsenal destroying their opponents, in the kind of manner that we all expected to be seeing our beloved Chelsea do to teams this season.
I’m aware that this isn’t your ordinary match report, but to be honest, there really wasn’t much to report in terms of match action, it really was that bad. And I won’t mention a certain little boy not shaking a certain Chelsea captain’s hand, because I might well end up in a spot of trouble if I published my true feelings on this situation!
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Simon Phillips – News Editor