Di Matteo Says He Can Handle Pressure
- English Football
Roberto Di Matteo insists he can cope with the pressure of managing Chelsea under the gaze of owner Roman Abramovich.
Di Matteo, who took over as interim boss when Andre Villas-Boas was sacked last weekend, is the eighth manager at Stamford Bridge since Abramovich took over in 2004.
But as he looked forward to Saturday’s match against Stoke when captain John Terry is likely to return to the starting line-up following knee surgery, Di Matteo said: “How am I going to cope? I will still get up in the morning. Have a coffee. Still have my lunch, my dinner, and get on with my life as normal.
“At any club, there’s pressure to achieve certain targets. It’s always there. Even if you’re working at another club. If you can’t handle it, don’t want it, you shouldn’t be in this job.
“We are in a results driven business. It’s very simple. At any club where you work, you’ll have targets and the pressure is there. Everywhere. That’s the common aspect for any manager, in League One, League Two, Championship or Premier League.”
Chelsea beat Birmingham to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek and Di Matteo revealed he had held talks with the big characters in Chelsea’s dressing room, some of whom had a strained relationship with Villas-Boas.
Di Matteo was confident there was a winning mood among the squad. He said: “I feel I have everyone on-side. I have spoken individually to all of them now over the five days. It’s a team effort and we needed to get everybody pulling in the right direction.
“We’ve spoken now and everyone is together. They all know what the task is for the last two months of the season. They’re all on board. You saw that in the reaction on Tuesday. We have to just carry this on until the end of the season.
“It’s a collective responsibility when things are not going well. It touches everybody: management, players, everyone who works at the club.”
Di Matteo insisted he would stick by Fernando Torres, the striker who has not scored for five months and 25 matches.
“He’s a tremendous player, a fantastic guy too,” Di Matteo said. “A team player who we value very much. He plays hard and tries hard; he had a great game on Tuesday and the only thing missing was a goal, but I don’t really care about that. As long as the team win.
“It will come (for him). I’m sure you’ve had some bad moments in your life when things didn’t go the way you wanted. It’s part of life. He’s fine.”
Terry’s return will bring solidity to the defence and Ashley Cole has also recovered from the heel injury he suffered against West Brom. In fact, Di Matteo reported a full squad available, which is paramount with the midweek Champions League second leg tie against Napoli coming up at Stamford Bridge.
Di Matteo said: “It’s great for the team if he’s (Terry) available because he’s our leader, our skipper, and a very important player. Going forward with these very important games coming up, it’s important I have everyone available. It’s great news.”
Asked whether he had ambitions to take the role on full-time, Di Matteo said: “I know you’re going to ask me this question every time, but it’s not important. The club will make their decision when the right time is for them. That’s fine.
“There’s a lot of speculation and it’s not for me to comment on what’s going to happen in the future. I have to win the game against Stoke.
“I have enough on my plate thinking about tomorrow. I want to try and keep it as simple as possible, trying to win the next game.”
Di Matteo refused to comment on the exit of Villas-Boas and the reasons for Chelsea’s struggling season. They lie fifth, three points behind Arsenal.
He said: “I don’t want to spend time on that. I want to look to the future. I have two months here to achieve our aim and that’s what I’m going to put my energy in. We can’t change the past.
“I have to make sure the players are in the right frame of mind. That’s what I have to do. We know we are fifth and we’ve made mistakes, but we’re strong, we have a good team, and we want to show we are better than where we are at the moment.”
Striker Didier Drogba rubbished suggestions managing Chelsea was an impossible job, telling the Premier League Show: “I don’t think it is an impossible job. “Most of the managers who came won a trophy. They all achieved something no matter how difficult it was.”