Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Poyet backs Di Matteo for Chelsea job

Roberto Di Matteo

Gus Poyet has urged Roman Abramovich to hand Roberto Di Matteo the Chelsea job full time, dubbing the decision a complete no-brainer.

Caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo remained in the dark about his future after playing in the British Airways Football Legends Invitational Tournament in Barbados. The event allowed him to catch up with former team-mates Poyet, Gianfranco Zola and Dennis Wise but in the background was continued speculation over his Chelsea status.

Di Matteo declined the opportunity to discuss the saga but Poyet provided an insight into how the Italian - who turns 42 on Tuesday - was feeling. He said: "He's very relaxed. He's just trying to get away from the crazy three months that he had." "It would be common sense that he will stay," Poyet added.

Those "crazy" three months in charge at Stamford Bridge witnessed one of the most sensational achievements by a caretaker manager in the history of European football. Yet, delivering the Champions League and FA Cup was not enough to guarantee Di Matteo the Chelsea job.

Poyet could not understand why, claiming Di Matteo had demonstrated the merits of handing the reins to someone whose heart bled blue.

Poyet, part of the famous team from the 1990s that have since taken the managerial world by storm, added: "I call him 'one of us', one of our generation - with so many managers. Mark Hughes, Gianluca Vialli, Ruud Gullit, Robbie Di Matteo, Dennis Wise, Dan Petrescu, myself, Didier Deschamps - there are so many - 'Chappy' (Albert) Ferrer.

"Why not one of us? Why should it be somebody else all the time? I'm not saying that we didn't have good managers at Chelsea. I mean, (Jose) Mourinho was different class. But give us a chance."

Billionaire Blues owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly determined to move heaven and earth to convince Pep Guardiola to abandon his planned sabbatical and become his ninth manager in nine years. The outgoing Barcelona boss is the latest big name Abramovich is said to believe can deliver the brand of football he craves.

Di Matteo won the Champions League with an extremely defensive approach but Poyet insisted his former team-mate proved at West Brom he could throw off the shackles - with the right group of players.

"He does play like that - his style is that," Poyet said. "Everyone is compared with Barcelona. As soon as you pass the ball three times, you play like Barcelona. He likes to pass the ball, to keep the ball, to be in control, to do important things while you are in possession. Of course, he needs to get the players to do that, and it's not going to be easy."

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