By now everyone on the planet has heard of the Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea story. However even though Di Matteo has won the; Champions league, Fa Cup, and has Chelsea top of the table and playing beautiful football he still has not gotten the credit he deserves. When discussing Chelsea at the moment the names that come up are the trio of Mata, Hazard Oscar, and the suddenly on form Fernando Torres. Oh and how could we forget the ongoing case with John Terry, and Ashley Cole. However there is a reason Chelsea remain top of the table, and that reason is Roberto Di Matteo.
Firstly, let’s look at the tactics which Di Matteo employs in order to keep Chelsea defensively sound yet still playing the Abramovich way. Di Matteo uses a 4-2-3-1 system with usually Mikel and Ramires in the double pivot. The reason for dropping Frank Lampard is because Lampard’s current game does not suit the holding position. Lampard cannot drive from midfield and track back effortlessly like Ramires. In addition Lampard is not as defensively sound or strong as Mikel, thus in big games Di Matteo will never play Lampard in the double pivot barring any injuries/suspensions. With those two protecting the back four and covering the front three, we look at how Di Matteo organizes the front three. In a 4-2-3-1 formation the most pivotal position is the player behind the striker, however in Chelsea’s case they have a surplus of number 10’s. This has been Di Matteo’s tactical revelation as he has somehow managed to get Hazard Mata and Oscar working cohesively together. Di Matteo plays Hazard on the left, Oscar through the Middle and Mata on the right and has given them the license to interchange at all times. By doing this it causes all sorts of problems for the opposition defenders as we saw against Arsenal and Norwich. The front trio pull defenders out of position with their movement and tiki taka passing. In addition this has had a big effect on Fernando Torres as this new formation seemingly has gotten the best of him. Look no further than his 6 goals in 12 games (all competitions) that is a pretty good return so far, and if he keeps playing well it can only improve. Roberto Di Matteo has been putting on a tactical master class so far, even out thinking the greats such as Arsene Wenger, however his greatest trait is where his predecessor failed and that is man management.
Roberto Di Matteo’s most overlooked attribute as a manager is his ability to man manage. The first example that has to be looked at when discussing this subject, is his handling of Frank Lampard. Villas-Boas was persecuted for dropping Lampard on several occasions to the extent that Lampard himself went public and vented his frustrations. However when Di Matteo does it, Lampard behaves himself and no one in the press victimises Di Matteo for doing it. This is because tactically it makes sense, and Di Matteo has informed Lampard of why he cannot play regularly unlike his predecessor who just shunned him. Another great display of man management on Di Matteo’s part has been his handling of Juan Mata. Mata had a busy summer, as he played in the Euro’s and the Olympics. Di Matteo gave him a two week break in order to recharge his batteries and it has worked wonders because Juan Mata is the best player in the premier league at the moment. In conclusion Di Matteo has the golden touch when it comes to keeping his players happy.
In Summary Roberto Di Matteo is a special manager who has done what no other Chelsea manager has done before, and is looking to top that by wrestling the premiership away from Manchester. Di Matteo is tactically brilliant, and has that something extra which most managers do not, and that is the ability to keep a happy camp. In addition he integrates youth into his sides, even a side as good as Chelsea, two examples of this are Ryan Bertrand and starlet Lucas Piazon. Di Matteo has proven untouchable so far and if he continues to keep Chelsea at the summit, he should have a couple manager of the month awards coming his way, and who knows maybe a Pardew-esque contract extension. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below, and follow me for more Chelsea,or EPL news, views and updates
Gerald Baffour @gerald_baffour