Di Matteo: Chelsea can make history
Roberto Di Matteo is intent on masterminding "something extraordinary" in Saturday's UEFA Champions League final and has brushed off the prospect of it being his last match in charge of Chelsea.
The interim coach again today admitted he thought becoming the first manager to lead the club to glory in European football's most prestigious club competition would not affect his hopes of being appointed on a permanent basis.
The former Chelsea midfielder also claimed he had no idea what the future would hold were he to be overlooked, even though he appears bound to be inundated with job offers on the back of his extraordinary Stamford Bridge rescue act.
Di Matteo, who has enjoyed a rollercoaster ten weeks in charge, said: "I have a big drive and a big motivation to do something extraordinary for this club. That's all I want to do. Whatever comes afterwards, there's always a reason why things happen."
Di Matteo insisted on Sunday he would have "no problem" if winning the Champions League failed to alter his fate and claimed this afternoon he had "not had time" to speak to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich about his future. "My future will be holidays after Saturday," the 41-year-old added, refusing to elaborate beyond that.
Indeed, all Di Matteo was concerned with was making "history" for the club he served with such distinction as a goalscoring midfielder. "This game can decide the history of our football club," he said. "It would be the first time we would win the European Champions League. That's all that matters and all we're thinking about and focusing on."
He added: "It's a massive game, a big game for the club, a big game for our players. I'm not suggesting it's just another game. We have to go into it with the knowledge we have the quality and experience to win it."
Luiz, Cahill boost
That might have been doubtful before David Luiz and Gary Cahill gave Chelsea a huge boost by returning to full training today, with both appearing to come through unscathed. Di Matteo had said on Sunday that Luiz and Cahill's fight to recover from hamstring injuries would "probably" go right up to the day of the game, with the centre-backs having been out for around a month with hamstring injuries.
There was bad news, however, on midfielder Florent Malouda, who Di Matteo revealed was "touch and go" after suffering a hamstring strain of his own in Sunday's final Premier League game of the season against Blackburn Rovers.
Di Matteo would be forced to turn to the club's youngsters were Luiz, Cahill and Malouda to join the suspended John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires on the sidelines. The selection issues Chelsea do have undoubtedly make Saturday's game Di Matteo's biggest challenge. He said: "This will be one shot and, with all the problems we have, it's causing me a headache."
Di Matteo's line-up is likely to include at least four of the players who started Chelsea's only previous Champions League final, when in 2008 they lost in a penalty shoot-out against Manchester United. "I don't think any of our players will need extra motivation for a game like this," he said. "From that point of view, it'll be easy."
What will not be easy is taking on Bayern in their own back yard. "They know the pitch, and that could give them a little advantage," Di Matteo said. "But, on the other side, they might have a bit of extra pressure because they're at home. I'm not sure if it is an advantage or not."
Di Matteo also played down suggestions the key to beating Bayern was shutting down their star wingers, Franck Ribery and former Chelsea star Arjen Robben. "I don't think it's quite as easy and straightforward as that," he said. "They have a lot of great players."
Swiss-born former Italy player Di Matteo was asked if he would consider moving to the Bundesliga, but insisted he was "very happy" in England. There are currently vacancies at Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, who sacked Di Matteo just over a year ago. Asked if he would ever go back, he gave a rare hint into where his future definitely would not lie. "In my life, I've gone back to an ex-girlfriend and it didn't work out," he said. "I'm not sure whether it's the right move."