Di Matteo not interested in permanent role
Roberto Di Matteo has claimed it has not crossed his mind "for one second" to ask for the Chelsea job on a permanent basis. Caretaker manager Di Matteo has overseen a hat-trick of wins since Andre Villas-Boas was sacked almost two weeks ago and the clamour for the Italian to fill the vacancy full time will only grow if the Blues' remarkable resurgence continues.
Di Matteo has steadfastly refused to say whether he wants the job permanently, and even if he extends his winning run during what has become a serious fixture pile-up, he will not be throwing his hat into the ring. "That has not crossed my mind for one second," he said ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester.
"I have so many things to do you can't even imagine. I am focusing just to get the team ready to the best of my ability for Sunday. We have set ourselves the target for the season and there doesn't need to be any other discussions."
As well as rescuing Chelsea's season, Di Matteo is also rebuilding his managerial reputation. The 41-year-old was feted as one of the brightest young coaches around from his spells in charge of MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion before the latter sacked him at the first sign of trouble during his maiden Premier League campaign. Asked if that still rankled, he said: "I don't come from the moon - I know how football works."
Yet, he added: "I thought I had a very successful time at West Brom. I got them promoted again and we were never in the bottom three for the whole season. I had a good time at West Brom and a very enjoyable time as well. The players were very, very good for me for the time I was there and some are still in touch with me."
Di Matteo revealed he had offers to return to the game, both from England and elsewhere, before agreeing to become Villas-Boas' assistant. There will be no shortage of suitors if he continues to succeed with Chelsea and they still choose to discard him.
Di Matteo said: "I haven't got the time to think about this. When the time is right, I will think about what the future will hold. At the minute, it's Leicester City, Sunday at 2.05."
As well as Chelsea producing Wednesday's historic UEFA Champions League victory over Napoli, a Tottenham slump has made finishing in the Barclays Premier League top four all the more achievable, while they suddenly have a full fit squad to choose from, with captain John Terry having made a remarkable recovery from knee surgery.
Surely, something must go wrong soon? "No, I don't think that," Di Matteo said. "I'm a pretty positive person in general. I hope we can win the next game and that's what I'm focusing on."
That next game is an FA Cup tie that reunites Di Matteo with Leicester boss Nigel Pearson. The two were on opposite sides when Di Matteo scored the fastest Wembley cup final goal of all time for Chelsea against Middlesbrough 15 years ago. The pair have squared off before as managers and Di Matteo revealed they had reminisced about 1997.
"We had a nice chat about that," he said, insisting he would never taunt the former Boro defender about 'that goal'. "He's a nice person, I like him very much. He's very good manager and honest. A man with integrity."
The 1997 FA Cup win was the first of several cup medals Di Matteo picked up during his time at Chelsea, a set he may be destined to add to as a manager. He said: "My father keeps a collection in Italy. He's made a room where he keeps all the medals and shirts."