The games Di Matteo must lose if he is to lead Chelsea to success

Di Matteo will find it hard to snub a competition that has offered a number of other recent Chelsea bosses a chance of early silverware.

The games Di Matteo must lose if he is to lead Chelsea to success

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July 5th, 2012

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Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo will this season have to take a decision no manager relishes: which trophies to give up on before the season has started.

The Blues are up for an unprecedented seven trophies in the 2012/13 campaign: the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Community Shield, Champions League, European Super Cup and World Club Cup.

If conventional logic says it is folly to fight on seven fronts at once, a look at the fixture schedule shows that to attempt to do so could be suicidal for Chelsea’s season.

From the very start, Blues suffer for the success they achieved last season.

On 12 August they are pitched into an FA Community shield game at Villa Park, not their happiest of hunting grounds, against Manchester City.

They are likely to be without Olympic stars including Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu, David Luiz, Ryan Bertrand and Daniel Sturridge for this match.

Three days later England face Italy in a friendly in Switzerland – a match from which it is hoped Blues’ squad members will be excused.

At the very end of August, Di Matteo’s side have a date with Europa Cup winners Atletico Madrid for the European Super Cup in Monte Carlo. The scheduling of this match means Blues’ home Premier League game against Reading is shifted back to Wednesday 22 August. Already, before the season is a month old, Chelsea have played two games more than their competitors.

Moving into September, the Champions League group stages and early rounds of the League Cup join the fixture list.

Added to this are a series of internationals: including England’s qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

As things stand, a Chelsea star who features regularly for his country (such as Ashley Cole or Petr Cech) will not have a midweek without a match between 8 August and 19 December. And even that date is at risk.

Chelsea’s involvement in the 6 to 16 December World Club Cup is already curtailed, due to them having a Champions League match on 4 or 5 December. But they will still add a likely two games to their schedule in Japan on 13 and 16 December.

This means another league game – at home to Southampton – has been postponed, yet to be re-scheduled.

No concession has yet been made for a possible League Cup 5th round match on 11 or 12 December. So with the obvious physical impossibility of players being on opposite sides of the globe at the same time, Di Matteo will be forced to either play the reserves or get the game shifted.

There is another option of course: ditch it altogether, by getting knocked out earlier in the competition. And the fact any involvement in the League Cup final would require the postponement of the Premier League trip to Manchester City on 23 February seems to back-up this option.

Add to the mix FA Cup matches and possible replays, and towards the end of the season Chelsea could start to run out of midweek slots to play in.

Di Matteo will find it hard to snub a competition that has offered a number of other recent Chelsea bosses a chance of early silverware.

But he should remember that, unlike Jose Mourinho or Gianluca Vialli, he doesn’t need to win over the fans.

Di Matteo already has the Champions League and FA Cup on his Chelsea CV, and he should be clear that the only way to add to that haul this season, will to be pragmatic about which games his side needs to lose.

Written by Dan Levene.

4 Responses

Posted by Uthman on

Quite an expository article. I hope RDM reads this as well. But I strongly believe he will deliver accordingly with God on our side. Chelsea forever.

Uthman from Nigeria.

Posted by Talha Hanif on

Dan, A great article, very decent approach…
my take would not be much different…

1: I think we can easily eliminate Super Cup & Carling Cup as a big burden due to the fact that they only are 1 match competitions. We can put our 1st team and win 2 trophies in 180 minutes.

2: We can use our Subs and reserves for Carling Cup. It will benefit us for the amount of minutes our youngsters can get through this competition. (Turnbull, Bertnard, Marin, De Bruyne, Essien, Romeu, Ferriera, McEachran, Hutchison, Piazon, Lakuka) all will be happy to get involved. we can also get the service of the seniors players who would be in need of getting some minutes.

3: In CL group stages we can go with a mixture of players having a gap in their ages and experience. Depending on their physical conditions. In that way the squad will keep giving good results along with the players being happy for the physical conditions and minutes played. (see 4 for details)

4: Squad rotation will be very important in League specially in early days, because we can not risk our players to get fatigue and frustration in early days. (How about having Lampard and Romeu getting one game, and Mikel and Josh the next one while Ramires and Meireles getting the other. if the schedule is very compact)

In short, Squad rotation will help us win trophies, develop youngsters and keep the seniors HAPPY… And FANS Proud…

Talha Hanif (@iMTalha94)

Posted by Coxy on

It is rather a marvellous problem to have come against isn’t it. I would like us to play a full reserve team in the League Cup so we can see some of that excellent youth team from last season more. The competition has reached its shelf life now with a new low last season of also runs Liverpool only winning on penalties against a Championship club.
I would also like to see Chelsea send a weakened team to the Super cup and world club championship so as to give the players a rest which might actually give us an advantage over the other top teams whom won’t have rested.

ps it is essential to remember KTBFFH

Posted by Ohiri E on

And if he fails to win the big ones in the end what use will it be? The sensible thing is to make prudent signings and get some depth in the team, we already have at least 2 good players in all positions but RW.

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