Roberto Di Matteo casts doubt over Pep Guardiola's ability to bring tiki-taka to Chelsea
Friday 27 April 2012
Roberto Di Matteo today cast doubt over whether Barcelona's culture could be exported to another club after Pep Guardiola suddenly became available for the Chelsea job.
Less than three days after being outwitted by caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo in the Champions League semi-finals, Guardiola this afternoon confirmed he was quitting as Barca manager at the end of the season. Although he announced he planned to take a sabbatical, speculation is rife Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will try to make him an offer he cannot refuse.
Abramovich is said to have long craved the concept of 'Barcelona in blue shirts', identifying Guardiola as the perfect manager to deliver that vision.
But Di Matteo said today: "History tells us it's difficult to replicate the culture of a club into a different club.
"He (Guardiola) might be the first one to do it. But if you look back at history, it seems as if it's been different."
You do not need to look back too far, with Di Matteo part of the Andre Villas-Boas regime that tried and failed to do just that before the latter was sacked almost two months ago.
Di Matteo's decision to go back to basics since taking charge has paid off spectacularly, culminating in Tuesday night's sensational comeback to beat Barca and reach the Champions League final.
Since then, the clamour for the 41-year-old to be handed the reins full-time has reached fever pitch.
His hopes would appear to rest on whether the reclusive Abramovich believes the Italian is also capable of producing the brand of football for which Guardiola is famed, or whether Tuesday's result has convinced him that the Barca model is not all it is cracked up to be.
Di Matteo was none the wiser today about his long-term future.
"Nothing has changed from my point of view," he said, insisting he remained "very relaxed" about his lot.
"I'm still very happy to be able to get this club to the end of the season and then this club will make a decision as to what is best for the club."
Although doubtless delighted with the semi-final win, Chelsea's methods over the two legs were the antithesis of the type of football that first convinced Abramovich to buy a club of his own.
They were also roundly condemned by the purists but Di Matteo said: "We don't really care. We scored three goals against Barcelona.
"Arguably, we scored the best goal, with the Ramires goal. People can talk as much as they want. We went through over two legs.
"Two different styles of football, but we're in the final."
Barca's Champions League defeat convinced Guardiola to go public about his intention to stand down this afternoon, the former Spain star admitting the pressure of the job had got to him.
Managing Chelsea is not exactly a bed of roses either but it has certainly done nothing to put off Di Matteo.
"I'm still young myself. Hopefully I'll have a few more years to manage," he said.
He also paid tribute to Guardiola, who has won a jaw-dropping 13 trophies since 2009.
"What a coach and a manager he is," he said.
"He's a great guy, a young man as well with many years ahead of him.
"He's had such tremendous success and has decided what is probably best for himself, his career and probably his family.
"I think he's a role model as a coach for every young manager, what he has achieved in such a short period of time.
"I'm not sure anyone else can replicate that."
Di Matteo is certainly going the right way about it, with Champions League and FA Cup finals to look forward to after less than eight weeks in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
However, it is qualifying for next season's Champions League that is the top priority.
And if Chelsea are not to leave themselves having to win next month's final to do that, they may need to win their next two Barclays Premier League games against QPR and Newcastle.
Di Matteo insisted his sixth-placed side would not give up on fourth and put all their eggs in one basket.
He said: "We'll try to win on Sunday to keep our hopes alive to finish in fourth spot. Then we'll take the next game on.
"Our priority is Sunday, now, to try our best against QPR."
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