Not that I fail to understand the wrath of the Chelsea supporters, incensed to see a coach associated with the detested Liverpool, with all that controversial European Cup baggage from the recent past. But to flourish those banners exalting Di Matteo while lamenting his brusque dismissal somewhat missed the point. Which surely was that from pre-season, and the thrashing in Monaco 3-0 by Atletico Madrid, it was all too obvious that the billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich shrugging aside his club’s extraordinary European triumph, remained hell bent on fielding an elegant attacking Barcelona like team (if only!) at the risk alas of giving away more goals.
Di Matteo was all too obviously doomed by the policies of last summer. The European Cup was not enough for Abramovich; he wanted not just to win it again but to win it well, with style and panache. He plainly thought Pep Guardiola could come to The Bridge, wave a magic wand, and Chelsea would be turned into a new Barca. What superficial thinking!
But now we hear that Guardiola isn’t naïve enough to fall for such mistaken ambitions. He has cooled off, if he was ever keen, on the prospect of working some sort of alchemy. But he plainly has no delusions of grandeur. So now it seems Abramovich would like to lure Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp to the club. Offer him enough fool’s gold if one may so describe it and come he might, but not, one fears, for very long, before the ever revolving door shots him into the Fulham Road.
Could it even be that under Benitez, his old Liverpool mentor, if not perhaps strictly because of Benitez, Fernando Torres has at long last regained his scoring powers? I watched the match against the feeble Danes; a perfect opportunity which Torres duly seized to recover his lost confidence and forget barren months. Duly accepted with those two goals and a very lively performance, repeated against much harder opposition three days later, at Sunderland. Then off to that rancid apology for a major competition, the so-called Club World Cup just what an English club needs in the depths of hectic mid season. So my friends, this is one dud competition which wasn’t invented by the abysmal Plattini.
He is doing his perverse best to ruin the European Championship, bloating the entry, he has failed in his impulsive confusion to find a decent single home for the next European championships but one, potentially forcing the qualifiers to race about all over Europe. He has mindlessly decided (I am prepared to accept his good faith if not his good judgement) to condemn the World Cup to Qatar. Could anybody be a worse President of FIFA than Blatter? Platini, whose eyes are clearly on the prize, could be precisely and wretchedly that.
At Chelsea, Abramovich pulls all the strings and the rest are puppets. Bruce Buck, the pleasant and elderly American lawyer whose knowledge of football is hardly evident, is wheeled out embarrassingly to emit the party line. A Nigerian called Michael Emanolo whose previous sole coaching experience was rightly or wrongly reported as being with a girls’ team in America, is a senior figure. A perceptive journalist sitting just behind the Chelsea bench at a Euro match reports that Carlo Ancelotti, then another short lived Chelsea manager – as alas he appears to be at Paris Saint Germain, didn’t address a single word to him throughout the game.