I hope AVB was watching the home leg against Napoli and I hope he finally understood why he ultimately failed at Stamford Bridge. There are those that would question the morals of some of the players, but the simple facts are these – Villas Boas destroyed team spirit, showed a lack of respect to some of our senior players (which was then reciprocated) and cut off his own nose to spite his face more times than I care to remember.
That game demonstrated the fight and resolve of a team that refused to be beaten. The players were able to concentrate on simply winning the game, as finally there were players played in their own positions in a set up which they were familiar with.
The atmosphere in the stadium sparked like electricity – the crowd believed it could be done – you could feel the positivity – even when Napoli scored – it seemed to strengthen resolve even more and you could see that the team felt it too. There was alot at stake for them – they had to prove that it was Villas Boas’s methods which had caused the slump – as the interested parties at large were already divided on the sacking.
Had Villas Boas not been so pig-headed and determined to prove a point in Naples I believe that we would have won the away leg and he’d probably still be in a job. Deep down he must know that too.
In the games since AVB’s departure, Di Matteo has done nothing radical – he has simply picked more or less the obvious first team for each game given the competition and those available to him. One could argue that the Napoli game apart he has not had a particularly difficult run of games to over-see but then AVB too presided over some fixtures which we should have won with a full reserve side out. The team are playing with a sense of freedom and confidence again, but the real measure of the team will manifest itself over the next few weeks starting tonight with a tricky tie against City.
If we beat City, Tottenham, Benfica etc and go on a successful run that sees us finish within a Champions league place and even with perhaps a bauble to put into the trophy cabinet – what then come the end of the season? Would Abramovich consider giving Di Matteo the job full time?
Personally I think that would probably be a mistake; the team are revelling in their new found freedom and I’m not sure RDM has done little more than choose the team that 99% of us would choose. Could he govern the over-haul we still need? It would be a risk and having had one risky appointment fail so miserably, I’m not sure they would take that route again in a hurry.
And what of our elder statesmen? If we did finish on a high come May – do they earn the right of yet another season as first team picks?
So many ifs, buts and maybes which we have no hope of answering until we know who will walk through that ever revolving door next.
Another decision for the new man whoever he is will be what to do with Torres. The crowd love him. Chelsea crowds have always loved a try-er and no one could accuse him of not giving his all every game. I felt like a proud parent following the two goals against Leicester – he deserved them and more (and would have got them if Sturridge just occasionally remembered that he has team mates) and I so hope that this is not yet another false dawn, but the beginning of a Torres renaissance.
I am not getting carried away – I know that two goals against Leicester do not suddenly solve all his problems but he hinted that he had a manager with more confidence in him now – again we go back to belief.
He has also demonstrated that a team does not have to built around him – that he can adapt. Even without goals he brings a lot to the games and personally, I would like to give him another season. Let’s break this habit of destroying proven goal scorers then selling them on once and for all.
The team now need to maintain momentum and make some headway against their immediate peers – many of which we play within the next few weeks. The resurgence has come none to soon as it will serve as a timely reminder of what we are capable of and the calibre of some of our players.
It only remains for me to wish Fabrice Muamba a speedy recovery – his situation focuses the mind on what is really important in this world. As much as we love the very bones of this game, priorities are re-assessed as a common feeling of shock transcends any rivalries. Come on Fabrice!