Lauding Di Matteo
This is an easy time to praise our manager, given how well we are doing.
But I would still like to do it, and give a few reasons why I believe he is a top manager, however well we do, come the end of the season.
(1) Controlling and instructing difficult players - Some footballers don't need much instruction - they are smart on the pitch. John Terry and Frank Lampard have kept up very high levels of performance no matter who they have played under. Others, David Luiz and Jose Bosingwa for example, look like completely different players depending upon who is managing them. Bosingwa looked quite solid under Hiddink, but useless under Ancelotti. Luiz was similarly ill-disciplined under Ancelotti, but now has tamed his wild side (mostly!), and looks like a much less risky defender. RDM even managed to get a great performance out of Bosingwa at CB against Barcelona! If anyone had told me that was possible a few seasons ago, I would have laughed at them! Mourinho is the same - he turns talented but tactically-unsure defenders (Marcelo, Maicon) into great players, and they revert to their old ways once he has gone, Maicon under Mourinho was regarded as the best RB in the world (keeping Alves out of the national side), but a year later he was being taken apart by Bale, and his performance level certainly dropped. Marcelo was regarded as a defensive liability before Mourinho, not so now.
(2) Identification of good players - How many of you screamed at the TV when you saw that Kalou had been picked again! Or Bosingwa over Ivanovic (Ancelotti guilty of this one!). Di Matteo kept them happy when he had to, but then promptly got rid of them as soon as he could. Meireles gone, Kalou gone, Bosingwa gone, Malouda gone (to the reserves). It was obvious to most of us Chelsea fans that they were not good enough, but not seemingly to previous manages (AVB, Ancelotti especially).
(3) Players gelling - Our front four this season consists of Torres, Oscar, Hazard, Mata; with Rami and Moses coming in sometimes. Oscar and Hazard are obviously new arrivals; and Torres played limited game time last year. To get these four players playing great football already, when they have barely played together before, is a fantastic achievement. It may not last, but he's has nevertheless shown that it is possible. Given our football style for the last 8 years, to be labeled 'Chelsealona' on Match of the Day, and to be called a better passing side than Arsenal, is a fantastic achievement in such a short space of time.
(4) Controlling squad rotation - SAF changes his side every game, but when Ancelotti swapped a player, it was always big news (and even bigger news when AVB did it). RDM has got the message through to the players than no one has a guaranteed name on the team sheet. It is no longer big news when Lampard is on the bench; or Cahill and Luiz play CB (no JT). This is an important thing to get the players to understand, and demonstrates that all players realize that (1) the manager has the power not the players and (2) the team comes first.
There are a few others things which he deserves to be praised for - Torres' recent performances, and capable handling of press conferences. Ancelotti and AVB alike both made some pretty foolish statements in press conferences, RDM stays controlled and measured; and doesn't let too much info out. Private club matters are private, and that's how it should be.
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