Roberto di Matteo may have given Chelsea the ultimate prize in club football after leading us to Champions League success in 2012, but Jose Mourinho does not seem too impressed with the Italian’s achievements. Speaking ahead of the Champions League group stage meeting with Schalke, Mourinho said that winning the European Cup is not necessarily a mark of great work. Schalke are now managed by di Matteo, who took charge a few weeks ago.
Mourinho’s words may have some truth given that Chelsea played very defensive football in the final stages against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Mourinho said:
“The Champions League – many, many times I say – is not the consequence of a great work.
“Sometimes, it is not. You can win the Champions League in the worst season. You can finish fifth [domestically] and win the Champions League. Liverpool did [finishing fifth in 2005] and Chelsea [finished sixth].
“So the Champions League is something that you cannot say, ‘This is the direction I want to go because I win that competition.’
“A knockout competition is something that always has a big percentage of unpredictability. I can do nothing to win it, I can only work to improve my team all the time, make a very good team like we are doing.”
However, the achievements of the Italian cannot be underestimated one little bit. After taking over in difficult circumstances following a poor start under Andre Villas-Boas, Di Matteo oversaw magical comeback against Napoli in the early knockout rounds. The Barcelona team that Chelsea faced over two legs was regarded as one of the best in the history of football. Yet, the blues managed to score three goals and reached our second Champions League final.
Bayern Munich may have completely bossed the final, but the result would have been very different had it not been for Di Matteo’s substitutions and meticulous preparation.
In terms of the Champions League, Di Matteo created history and Mourinho is on the path towards creating one. Success is the first and foremost, while the way it arrived is only secondary. Mourinho should acknowledge and respect Di Matteo’s achievements. After all, there is not one Chelsea fan will ever forget that night in Munich. #19.05.2012