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A Look Back: Di Matteo With Chelsea FC
The One, The Only RDM
From winning the Champions League as an interm boss, to being fired after a 3-0 loss to Juventus, Roberto Di Matteo has had a roller coaster of a "career" with Chelsea Football Club. Here is a look back at RDM's best and worse moments with the Blues.
Days Lasted By Recent CFC Bosses (By Matches)
José Mourinho - 185
Carlo Ancelotti - 109
Avram Grant - 54
Roberto Di Matteo - 42
Andre Villas-Boas - 40
Luiz Felipe Scolari - 36
RDM Takes The Helm
On March 4th, 2012, Roberto Di Matteo took over Chelsea after Andres Villas-Boas was sacked following a 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion. Di Matteo had previously managed Milton Keynes Dons, leading them to 3rd in League One and West Brom, who he had lead up to the EPL in his first season, only to be sacked in Feburary 2011. In his first game he won 2-0 at Birmingham in the FA Cup and then a week later over came a 3-1 disadvantage from the first leg, to beat Napoli and advance to the UEFA Champions League Final Eight.
RDM Starts To Roll
After beating Napoli 4-1 in extra time, Chelsea lost just one of their next 13 games. Chelsea drew tough opponents in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, getting Tottenham and Benfica. Chelsea came back from Portugal with a 1-0 win to give them a slight advantage in the next leg, which they would win 2-1. After beating Wigan and drawing Fulham, Chelsea prepared to take on Tottenham at Wembley to compete to play in the FA Cup Final. What was expected to be a tight game turned into a thrashing as the Blues were victorious 5-1. The games kept rolling as Chelsea found out they had to play Barca in the final four of the Champions League, and Liverpool in the FA Cup, not to mention upcoming EPL games vs Newcastle and rivals QPR. Chelsea won a shock victory at the Bridge vs Barca winning 1-0 to set them up with a slight advantage for the 2nd leg at Camp Nou. Di Matteo was getting the players to play for him, and enjoy playing for him, something that AVB was unable to do. It was a tight game, but thanks to a game-securing Torres goal, Chelsea advanced to the Champions League Final against all odds. However, they would have to play without Terry who got a red card vs Barca along with Ivanović, Meireles and Ramires who all got second yellows (carried from other games).
May Is When It Matters
On one of the last days of April, Chelsea crushed league rivals QPR 6-1. They had scored four goals before the 20th minute, and Torres was coming to life (finally) under RDM. With one eye on the coming FA Cup, the Blues suffered their first loss since Napoli getting beat by Newcastle 2-0. Finally came the FA Cup Final vs Liverpool. Liverpool came in licking it's wounds from a 1-0 defeat to Fulham, and with the knowledge that their manager may be fired if they lose. The Blues looked the better team early on, scoring quickly through a Ramires goal in the 11th minute. Liverpool lacked any serious effort on offense and it seemed like Chelsea was bound to score at any moment. That moment came in the 52nd when Drogba netted won, and in doing so became the first player to score in four different FA Cup Finals. Andy Carroll scored in the 64th, but it was too little, too late as Chelsea went on the win their 7th FA Cup. Liverpool got revenge a few days later winning 4-1 in Premier League play, but it was not enough to save Kenny Dalglish's job and he was sacked at the end of the season. In the final match before the Champions League Final, RDM's boys beat relegation-bound Blackburn 2-1.
The Champions League Final
Six days later, Chelsea prepared to take on German powerhouse Bayern Munich in Munich. Di Matteo picked a squad of regulars with the exception of Ryan Bertrand who was playing his first UCL game ever. Gary Cahill and David Luiz were questionable in the days leading up to the game, but were back in time to make the starting lineup. In place of suspended captain John Terry, Frank Lampard wore the armband. Bayern came out with a strong lineup, touting Mario Gómez, Franck Ribéry and former Chelsea player Arjen Robben up front. Chelsea played as defensive as you can get while still competing, understanding their losses on the backline due to suspension. Bastian Schweinsteiger got a yellow in only the second minute, but it was the only card action that would happen in the 1st half. Bayern racked up the shots, while Chelsea only had one good chance, a cutting shot by Kalou that was saved by Neuer. Di Matteo's tactics were proving to work, as both teams went into the break goalless. Bayern had 13 shots in the first half, while only 2 were on target. They also had possession for 60% of the half and 8 corner kicks. The beginning of the second half showed nothing new, with Bayern missing plenty of chances, and Cech making several great saves. In the 73rd Bertrand finished his first UCL game with a strong performance before being subbed for Florent Malouda in an attempt to play more offensive. Then, David Luiz and Ashley Cole both got yellows in a 5 minute span, making them have to play more conservative with only Paulo Ferreira on the bench for defense. Bayern (finally) broke through in the 83rd minute off of a corner that was headed home by Thomas Müller and was seen by Bayern fans and management as the winning goal. Müller was then subbed off for Daniel Van Buyten and Salomon Kalou was swapped for Fernando Torres. Chelsea never said die, and after five minutes of intense pressure, the Blues hit home. A Juan Mata corner was beautifully headed by Dider Drogba to tie the game up in the 88th. The game wandered into extra time, with Bayern winning a penalty in the 93rd. Drogba tripped a Bayern in the box and was given a yellow card for it. Cech made a good save off of a mediocre Robben PK to keep Chelsea in it. The only other news of extra time was the substitution of Franck Ribéry for Ivica Olić (who was playing his last game in a Bayern shirt). The game went into PKs, with Chelsea fans think of nothing but their PK loss to Man United in the 2008 final. Mata, Luiz, Lampard, Cole, Drogba would take PKs for Chelsea, with Lahm, Gomez, Neuer, Olic and Schweinsteiger taking them for Bayern. Things started off bad for the Blues, with Mata having his attempt saved. There was a strong chance to tie it up when the goalkeeper Neuer took his, but his PK when just under Cech's arm. Olic then took his, however his was saved and Cole scored his to tie it up at 3-3. Schweinsteiger's attempt was tipped off the post by Cech, and put all the pressure on Neuer to stay in the game. Drogba stepped up and took what was his last kick as a Chelsea player, and scored a beauty to win it all. It ended up being the kick that got RDM a job offer as permanent manager.
Gearing Up For A New Season: USA Tour
Chelsea had a average pre-season, beating Seattle Sounders and drawing PSG before taking on the MLS All-Stars in Philly. The All-Stars upset the Blues in a thriller, 3-2 due to a last minute goal. The friendlies went downhill from there, as Chelsea lost to AC Milan and Brighton before the start of the season. Di Matteo signed young superstars Eden Hazard, Mario Marin and Oscar over the summer, building an elite midfield.
Chelsea 4-2 Reading
A New Season
Di Matteo's season started with a 3-2 loss to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, losing out on the opportunity to win a morale boosting trophy. After easy wins vs Wigan, Reading and Newcastle, they would have another chance at a title in the UEFA Super Cup vs Atletico Madrid. The Blues came in strong, but the defense and midfield easily crumbled and Chelsea lost 4-1. It was a poor match and set the Blues a few steps back. A morale struggle was occurring as they tied QPR and Juventus in games they should have won, and Matteo's tactics weren't working.
Back On Track
After a two straight draws and a poor loss, the Blues needed to get back on track, and quickly. Di Matteo slightly changed his tactics, and it proved to be more than effective. They beat Stoke and Wolves at home, before trumping Arsenal and UCL foe Nordsjaelland on the road. Back in EPL play, they beat Norwich at home and Tottenham at White Hart Line. A tough set of matches loomed for the Blues, and it would take their full ninety to beat them.
Chelsea had to face Donetsk in UCL play, Manchester United in EPL play, and Manchester United again in the Capital One Cup, all in the span of eight days. Chelsea headed to Ukraine, but came back with a 2-1 loss, and a 2nd place position in the Champions League. Then a controversial game vs Manchester United ended 3-2 in favor of the Devils. Accusations of racial abuse swirled about the ref Mark Clattenburg, but he was cleared later by the FA. Also, Manchester United scored the winning goal off of a offside position, but it wasn't called by the linesman. Chelsea got revenge of some sort, winning 5-4 in a cracker after extra time 3 days later. Chelsea then drew to Swansea at Liberty Stadium 1-1.
It All Ended Here
Turmoil In The Forcast
Di Matteo got the Blues back on the right foot, beating Donetsk at home, but rumors of Di Matteo being sacked were already swirling. It was only November 7th. Chelsea drew a tough game vs Liverpool, in which captain John Terry injured his leg in his first game back from suspension. With Frank Lampard also injured, Chelsea had a lack of leadership on the pitch. Cech was named the captain versus Di Matteo's former team West Bromwich (The same team the got AVB sacked) however they lost a very poor game 2-1 away. Headlines reported it would all come down in Turin vs Juventus. Win or draw and keep your job. Lose and lose it. He played with no Torres, and with Hazard as his lone striker. He lost it. A 3-0 loss to Juventus proved to be the breaking point, and Di Matteo was sacked the next day. Yes it was ruthless, but in the Roman's (and maybe only the Roman's) eyes it was justified.
After The Sacking
He went from interim manager to UCL winning manager to sacked mamager, all in a 42 game span. Still, he will be in Chelsea fans' hearts forever.