We can’t go wrong with Robbie can we?

It felt quite bizarre to be reading tweets after the game against QPR on Saturday and again lat night, criticising Roberto Di Matteo. He was the man who turned a sinking ship into a team of European Champions in under three months, so should be untouchable right? However, two games without a win in the league and some already start jumping on the bandwagon.  The question is though, is he too defensive to be successful in the long term?

The 4-2-3-1 system adopted by Di Matteo in his time in charge has brought him sixteen wins, six draws and five losses so far, with a win percentage of 59% and of course two trophies. This is the preferred formation of many of Europe’s top clubs nowadays, as it is also the tried and trusted method at Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint Germain, and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. It could be argued that it’s a swanky new name for the 4-3-3 system, with the midfield three split into two holding midfielders and one playing off the striker. Success in Europe is often gained by defensive cohesion and organisation, so the two sitting in the middle protecting the back four could of played a big part in leading to that glorious night in Munich in May. However, it is these two positions which are splitting opinion currently.

John Obi Mikel may cause more debate than any other player in Chelsea’s squad. Personally, it has infuriated me throughout his six years with the blues whenever he gets caught in possession and fails to give the team the drive and class that the likes of Michael Essien and Claude Makelele once gave us, and what currently Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes are doing so effectively for the Manchester clubs. Those on the other side of the fence point to his performance in last season’s Champions League final, where he finally gave us that solidity that he was meant to bring when signed for an eventual cost of £16 million in 2006 from Lyn Oslo. You have to give credit to Di Matteo for bringing him in from the wilderness last season and getting that out of him, but has he really needed to play him every game so far this season? Thus far this campaign, we have faced Wigan, Reading, Newcastle, Athletico Madrid, QPR and Juventus. As we are one of the established elite in the league, and I mean this with all due respect to our opposition, we won’t need two holding midfielders against the Wigans and Readings of this world, so we could need more flexibility there

I do also understand that Frank Lampard is not moving as freely as he once did and his age is catching up with him. His game used to consist of pulling strings left and right, while commanding the space outside the penalty box and shooting on site in that area of the field. Nowadays, he is restricted to keeping things ticking over. But the way I see it, Lampard and Mikel playing as the two in the 4-2-3-1 system does not work. While I appreciate that the Super Cup spanking we received in Monaco was not a competetive game, the difference in pace between the two sides was laughable. This was in large part due to the lack of speed from turning defence into attack, which Athletico did so briskly and efficiently, catch us out on numerous occasions. This is why Ramires would be better used in this role. He gives us energy on the right wing, but this season he is running into blind alleys and his performances, dare I say it, have had a touch of the Kalou (Kalouless) about them at times. His level of stamina is frightening and the drive he could give us box to box, as he did very well for us last season, could be what we are missing.

While last Saturday’s game at Loftus Road was always going to provoke the endless handshake debate, which almost makes me yawn even writing about it now, sadly was amplified due to a what was on the most part a drab, uneventful game. I have to admit I was worried as soon as I saw the teamsheet. Not only did we lack movement coming forawrd from the likes of Lampard, Mikel and Ramires, but I wonder whether selecting Ryan Bertrand over Daniel Sturride or Victor Moses was the wisest move. Don’t get me wrong, Bertrand is a fantastic talent with so much potential, and did a satisfying job in Munich as defensive cover to Ashley Cole. But this was not Bayern Munich. This was a team who before last season hadn’t been in the Premier League for sixteen years, and no, I do not see them as rivals. In the three games he’s played in that position this season, I can’t see what effect he has had as a winger. He has gone missing in games, and while I’m prepared to give him the time he deserves, because he seems the natural successor to Cole, perhaps it was too defensive a selection for that specific game.

Daniel Sturridge is just not fancied by our Italian manager, as was personified by the number of selections Kalou was given at the back end of last season, due to giving us more when tracking back. Sturridge has not started once yet this season, but in the two games he has come on as a substitute, against Reading and on Saturday, his fresh legs have been electrifying. I keep saying that while it is frustrating that he doesn’t pass enough, he is only 22 and has world class ability. He can score goals, can beat a man, and it upsets me when our fans get on his back, because not so long ago he was arguably our best player under he who must not be named (AVB). I constantly urge people to see how good he is in five years time. But Di Matteo’s refusal to play him could be another sign of a defensive mindset, or tactics that benefit the team as a whole, or perhaps a bit of both.

Cynics may also look towards our performace at home to Benfica in the second leg of our Champions League quarter final last season. A man up, 2-0 up on aggregate and being at home did not stop us from getting men behind the ball and knocking it long, and while we did eventually come through a stern test, at one stage it was looking very nervy. However, those who knock the tactics used in the semi final and final must be claims born out of jealousy, as you’d have to be mad to play open,expansive football against Barcelona, and we had to admit we’re not as good as we once were and build from a solid base at the back. Quite frankly, who cares how we played in those games, we still went home with the trophy and priceless memories.

The first three games of this season showcased a slick passing movement and flair that we haven’t seen at the Bridge since the days of Damien Duff, Arjen Robben and Joe Cole in their pomp, which is why it has baffled me that we’ve gone back to direct tactics recently, particularly as we no longer have a target man in Didier Drogba. But then let’s remember it’s only the last two games that haven’t gone our way. Roberto Di matteo has worked wonders so far, and while I have to admit I wasn’t entirely convinced by his tactics at times last season, I can’t argue with what he achieved, so I won’t be too hasty with any teething problems our new brand of football has to make.




18 Responses to “We can’t go wrong with Robbie can we?”

  1. Bull shit actually the way he keeps going we will start losing and not drawing matches until he starts thinking straight start playing Cahill with Luiz drop fucken lampard play Ramirez in his proper role central mid and Sturridge needs to start coz he has goals forget Torres he has lost it. Last season is gone time to move on or someone is getting sucked and wouldn’t complain the team needs to adjust to game changes 433 suits everyone better more fluidity and support for the striker.

  2. Chelsea spent fortune in the last transfer market to bolster our attack. RDM incurs the wrath of Chelsea fans with his wrong tactics that do not favour the strength of the team. It does not harness the ability that is available in the team. Therefore, he should change or face been sacked.

  3. A nice piece. But I refuse to accept your stance on the teething problems associated with the new brand of football at Stamford Bridge. It is rather the exposure of RDM’s tactical, technical & managerial inabilities to manage such a great club as my beloved Chelsea with arrays of talents. His organisation has been anything but dismal. He ought to have realised by now that playing Lampard from the pivot is hampering transition\link-up play with the attack & exposing the midfield. His diagonal, sideways & backward passes are actually meant to get him into opponents vital area before the ball, so he could score. I seriously wondered why Di Matteo would give him full playtime at the expense of our new talents. Unfortunately, Lampard is not part of the future that sought when we went to market ??I? the summer. RDM is such a joke playing Bertrand ahead of Moses or Sturridge. What about Ramires? I think RDM is the most confused manager right now

  4. Torres, lampard nd mikel shld nt play evr gem for 90 mins. Its high time RDM realise that lampard is old nd should be used as scoles and giggs of utd are used. Sturride should be given the chance to start most of our game just like the days of AVB at the expence of goal shy torres who has refuse to learn from drogba.

  5. Dimateo has dan a great job by bringing out de best in de players,his formation is tactically good but de use of rameries as a winger is killing us slowly with betrand de other side doesent help us.plzz u have a player like moses on de bench y don’t u use him instead.plz de formation we re using is very good but lampard nd mikel are not good pairing together.plz try pairing romeo and ramires in dat position nd u will see how de ball will flow fast and beautiful.plzzz trust me wit dis is prefect u will see it.lampard shouldn’t play de whole 90mins.dimateo plz wit ur changes try and always do all de changes it will help us plz.blues till I die.ma blood is blue.

  6. I comend the writer for this great nd thoughtful article.At least i can now see that somebdy is thinkin in my line of thoughts….As i have always said,the only person who dosnt knw that ramires is nt a winger is di mateo,nd the only person who dosnt knw the potentials of victor moses is di mateo…Am so sure that wrong team selection wil cost him his Job,.As my friend comented,di mateo dosnt have the ability to fuly harnes the potential in his team nd fuly exploit them to his advantage…..(I bet i can be a beter coach)..Evry chelsea fan knws that lampard is geting weaker nd mikel is a shadow of his own..If not 4 the presure mountd on di mateo,he wuldnt have playd oscar,,callin him daft is jst dificult to do bt am afraid i dnt knw what else to do.Imagine the lyks of moses sturidge,romeou, etc sitting on the bench,while some first class flops ar playing shit.God savd di mateo i aint abrohimovic…U dnt play first team becaus u came to the club first or because u ar an elder,u play first team cuz u merit it,..In chelseas case,its difrence,if john tery dosnt play any game,den he definitly injured,.Lampard must play evry chelsea game as far as he is fit…These ar usles rules…Di mateo isnt dynamic one bit.He isnt creative either cause no manager repeats exatly a squard that continues flopin,(jst dat he included oscar though he saw the dividend)..He is gradualy walking to his exit door, if he dosnt knw hw to use our players…The time 4 defensive aproaches to games has gone cos even the defense ar now faulty……Now i undastnd the difrent btwn a coach and an assistant coach made coach..Wit due respect.

  7. How does a team with 4 defenders and two defensive midfielders with a two goal advantage go on to draw a game like that – answer is simple RDM. Sorry Robbie loved you as a player but you are simply not good enough to manage Chelsea in the long term. Pep by January I hope – can you imagine what he would do with Roman’s new toys, he certainly would not play a central defender at RB, A central midfielder at RW or bring on a LB to play LMF when we have players for those positions sitting on the bench. In addition why, irrespective of the opposition do we always have to play with two DMF’s and much as I love him Lamps is not suited to the role and Obi is just too slow. This is not knee jerk I have real concerns about RDM being able to use the resources at his disposal.

  8. RDM should learn to play an attacking game instead of misusing players… Chelsea can be the best team this season if the correct selection and tactics is use. He should learn how to selection player b/c of what they can contribute instead of trying to favour sme.

  9. Nice analisis Sturidge is beter than Toress and bertrand I don’t know if Beertrand bribe him Rdm can’t change tactics when his leading or he was been lead he need to go back to coaching Sch

  10. RDM should help chelsea by playing players in their normal position. I don’t see the reason he play betrand left wing whereas we hav players who ar capable of doing that work. Lampard should step down for young players pls, i don’t know why u keep buying young players if u cannot play them in ur match.

  11. RDM is a joke,am sorry if am being too harsh but playing players out of position is just laughable.how can lampard,mikel,ivanovic play when the likes of cesar,moses and romeu are rotting on the bench.God save his soul and if things continue the same way, i will not be surprised if he gets the sack by january.We are waiting for u’ PEP’.

  12. Majority of the comments here lacks merits and logic. If RDM is so tatitcally porose, how come Chelsea is top of the Premier league and had an improved game in the CL against a team in top form?
    All these haters who called themselves chelsea fans and still rashly criticise a legend of the Club who won us the ‘holy grail'(Champion league) after other great coaches failed in the quest, my question to you all is what have you achieved that gives you the moral right to demand for RDM’s job. How many clubsides have you manage and achieve so much success, that give you the confidence that you can do a better job?
    Am sick of hearing all these rantings of losers who claims to know football tactics than everyone. If your desire is to see the downfall of our club legend, i have bad news for you.’RDM is here to stay’ okay?
    Get these into your skull and crawl back to your shell.

  13. Torres is dead and cant wake again, he sud be sold comes january bcos what is the essence of a striker playing the whole 90mins without registering atleast a shot off target? RDM sud start using sturridge ahead of him, and Mr RDM sud pls giv all our young talent to show their abilities, he sud partner ramires and romeu in the DMF role, he sud giv azpillicueta chance to showcase his talent, he sud start using moses more on the wings, he sud name marco marin on the bench since he is now fit. Lamp, torres, mikel sud all make ways for fresh legs. With this expect the best of chelsea new look. Bluessss 4 life.

  14. U all have spoken well, but we shouldn’t put all d blame on obi….the problem is most lampad start all the game considering his age ? Co’s i don’t see any impact frm him except when taking a free kick, on d other hand mikel have been doing all the marking an tagling. An most luis or terry start always ? While we have fanstastic cahill on benge, most torres played 90m ? While we have alternative strike like sturrige, an wat do we need betran 4 ? While we have moses…. Frm my own point d game against juve was loss due to wrong substitute…….an ramires isn’t a winger, RDM should always used mikel an ramires on d hole insted of brother lampard……. An what abaut Apilicueta wat do we buy him 4 ?

  15. I am very happy with all these comments and I wish Robbie will read and know we are not happy at all. We are not suppose to be losing points anyhow when we can win the game pls stop playing bertrand as an attacking mid fielder if u like him so much bench cole ,david luiz error is becoming to much play ivanovic at d centre and give d new rightback a chance .rest lampard a little and try ramires at d centre and try to play oriol too. Pls return mata to d left wing he’s can’t play dat centre he wants he has not done any assist since u started playing him in d centre d mata I know can not play 4games without an assist RDM this is ur chance don’t blame Roman when u r axed please know it is ur own fault. Fergie does not play scoles and giggs in every match pls . Torres shud start shooting training and tell him to stop dribbling when he needs to shoot all he needs is shooting training Robbie dis is ur opportunity don’t let it go

  16. U hv said it al.

  17. RDM…Wen u mak wrng selections i jst feel bad bcs i cnt rily imagine u makin such a mistake. Wen anceloti came hs prblm was on hs tactical substitutions,nw Rdm is on wrng selection 4 games, wat is al ds. Infact i tink RDM should use this playrs in our matche against stoke nd watch out d gallore of goals it wil yield…. Cech……iva, terry, luiz/cahil, cole……..mikel,ramires…….moses, mata,hazard………sturridge. Subs: oscar on Mata, azpi on iva, marin on moses. If u watch d game against QPR Moses n sturidge undastood each oda, while hazard n mata ar der alrdy. And ramires wil alwys b der helpn Mikel wch lampard doesnt do therby leavin Mikel exposd. Rdm jst try ds n watch out. My blood is blue.

  18. I think di matteo is the man for Chelsea. But if we want to start winning games we should be winning, like the last two games. He needs to make more subs. And generally change the team around a bit. For example ..
    Luiz shouldn’t be centre back unless its an emergency. He should be in the defensive part of the midfield. No disrespect to lampard but he shouldnt always play the full 90 mins. Ramires should play in that defensive role too. As much as I love ryan Bertrand , the manager should stop putting him on the wings before people like Sturridge,moses, Oscar,mata and who ever is on the bench. He’s got great pace but lacks the attacking part of his game compared to the people I just mentioned.

    I think it was a mistake letting essien go.

    My preferd team …


    Ivanovic , Cahill , terry , cole

    Ramirez , David Luiz

    Mata , Oscar , hazard