At Chelsea Football Club, past performance is not, it would seem, used as an indicator of future success: recent results matter. At least, it would seem, where the manager’s job is concerned. The club, whose manager Roberto Di Matteo helped them to lift the 2012 UEFA Champions League and FA Cup trophies in his first part-season in charge, dumped their Italian born boss following a 3-0 UEFA Champions League 2012/13 Group Stage defeat to Juventus last night.
The decision came following a defeat which looks likely to see Chelsea relegated to the Europa League in the first season following their impressive and dogged battle to lift club football’s most coveted prize.
In the Barclays Premier League, Chelsea have been under-performing somewhat of late, following a bright start. A near-impeccable start, and lead in the table has slid to a loss-draw-draw-loss third place. Hardly a major form slump, it is true, particularly when the first loss was against Manchester United, but the nature of the two most recent back-to-back defeats – a 2-1 loss away at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League followed by a dreary performance in a never-near 3-0 defeat away at Juventus – has spelled exit for Di Matteo.
Di Matteo, it has to be said, was always fighting an uphill battle to retain the support of fastidious Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has now been through eight top-class managers since 2004.
The speed of Di Matteo’s removal, and the Wednesday announcement that Chelsea expect to name a successor to the Italian soon suggest that the next Chelsea manager may have already been at least forewarned that a call may be coming. Di Matteo was, it would appear, on borrowed time; allowed only very little margin for error.
For Di Matteo, one has to feel a degree of sympathy, but with an already impressive CV, it looks likely he will take on a job in a more secure seat in the near future. When he came to Chelsea it was in an initial role as a caretaker, and so it has proven, despite having signed a two year deal in June this year. Having won two major cup competitions, the Italian, when the dust has settled, will feel he has done a little more than simply keep the house in order at Stamford Bridge. He can be please with his eight month’s work.
A decision on the next Chelsea manager is awaited.