Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

The Punter: Di Matteo sure to get a chance at Chelsea

Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo celebrates with John Terry

What must a football manager do to retain his job? Winning two trophies in one season, including the biggest one of all, would on the face of it, make such a question ridiculous.

But it's the idiosyncratic world of football we're dealing with and amazingly, Roberto Di Matteo is not certain to be in charge of Chelsea come the first day of the 2012-13 campaign, despite taking the Blues from the depths of despair to FA Cup and Champions League triumphs in the space of 21 games, only three of which he lost.

Clubs would normally be knocking down the doors for such a man. Not it seems Chelsea or Roman Abramovich it would seem.

Who would do a better job? Not Fabio Capello who can be ruled out of consideration. Harry Redknapp? Never in the month of Sundays. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, both European winners are the only candidates that could possibly be considered but even they would have been hard-pushed to better Di Matteo's achievement of a 67% success since taking over from Andre Villa-Boas.

Of course, Chelsea rode their luck not only in getting past Barcelona but also in last Saturday's final in which a poor Bayern Munich side could not take gift-wrapped chances. However, the Londoners wouldn't have been in a position to enjoy their good fortune but for Roberto who stands head and shoulders above anyone else as manager of the year.

With Guardiola taking a sabbatical and Mourinho having signed a new Real Madrid contract, Abramovich would be mad to consider anyone other than Di Matteo and will be exposed as a ruthless operator nonpariel if he makes what would be his second major blunder after turning to AVB before realising his first mistake.

And that makes odds of 4/6 quoted by Paddy Power about Di Matteo holding the Stamford Bridge reins for at least another season, more than acceptable. After all, he's 4/9 with other firms and the only other possible 'dark horses' to consider are former boss Guss Hiddink (25/1) and Everton's David Moyes (33/1).

The Everton boss's reputation goes before him as does that of Hiddink, who has indicated that he'd relish a chance to go back to the Bridge where he enjoyed success after stepping in for Felipe Scholari.

In view of Didier Drogba's likely departure during the summer, John Terry and Frank Lampard coming to the end of their careers, it will be very much a case of rebuilding a Chelsea team made all the more easier now they're kings of Europe with more to spend.

Chelsea are as big as 16/1 to retain the Champions League crown but few teams win in successive years.

As for AVB, he tops the market at 6/4 to be the next Liverpool boss but Roberto Martinez (2/1) makes more appeal and appears to be home and hosed.

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