71-7 = 64 points
There is only a 20% chance that 64-points will deliver a club UEFA Champions League football. This season falls into the majority.
So, is Di Matteo being disingenuous attributing our failure to grab a top four spot to his predecessor?
On the surface his Premier League form looks almost identical to that of Villas-Boas.
AVB: P 27 W 13 (48%) D 7 (26%) L 7 (26%)
RDM: P 10 W 4 (40%) D 3 (30%) L 3 (30%)
Or: P 11 W 5 (45%) D3 (27%) L 3 (27%)
(Assuming a last round win against relegated Blackburn.)
But that is not the way the Chelsea Blip-O-Meter is calibrated.
Under Villas-Boas, Chelsea lost all seven of the points that we dropped against the comparable fixtures of the previous season (the “failure” that cost Ancelotti his job).
Under Di Matteo we will likely maintain that position having dropped three and gained three. And this despite mounting a successful challenge in the FA Cup and making the final of the European Cup. Successes that created the mother of all fixture log-jams.
It was not losing to Newcastle and Liverpool that has cost us a top four finish. It was our failures during a supposed easy run mid-season, (from which we managed: 3 draws, 2 wins and a celebrated defeat). That run of games returned nine points from what ought to have been eighteen. Villas-Boas achieved one less point from those “easy” fixtures than Ancelotti managed (That’s the same Ancleotti who was summarily sacked at the end of last season).
Thus it was at the end of January that the Blip-O-Meter indicated that we might need to win the this year’s European Cup to qualify for next year’s competition.
“You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose” observed American football coach & sportscaster Lou Holtz.
On that basis, is Di Matteo the man to take us forward? Or did he just put the square Chelsea pegs, back into the square Chelsea holes?
Basically, like Hiddink, Di Matteo simply withdrew an extra midfielder in front of a shaky back four and dropped back the wide forwards both in terms of width (into the channels) and depth (to play as half-forwards or three-quarters).
Both moves stiffened the defence while allowing Mata to play almost a free role as a No10. It didn’t hurt matters that suddenly Drogba had a point to prove to somebody or other. And probably his last chance to fill in the one gap in his medal collection. It is likely now, that the new incumbent will adopt a policy closer to evolution than revolution.
I guess we’ll find out soon.
In practice, for all the protestations about “reviewing the position at the end of the season”, the decision was probably made back in March and our new coach’s shopping list is already in Gourlay’s wallet (more accurately, Gourlay’s pocket and Abramović’s wallet).
I doubt it is Di Matteo. But Di Matteo won’t lose out. He’ll be guaranteed a big cheque and probably the assistant’s role – if he wants it. And if he would rather return to being a head coach, his time with us will have done him only good.
And so onto Bayern in Munich.
When Di Matteo took over the probability of us playing off for the biggest prize in European Club Football would have been something less than 1%.
Win it and Bobby Dazzler will have a CV that will open almost any door…
Branislav Ivanović: Chelsea FC 2011-12 Player Of The Year– and by a country mile.
He may be a mad Serb.
He may look like an axe murderer.
But he’s our mad Serbian axe murderer.
Hvala lijepo, Branislav.
Posted by Steve Symmons