Roberto Di Matteo targets Chelsea Premier League title challenge
Roberto Di Matteo wants his Chelsea side to mount a serious title challenge after he was confirmed as the club's permanent boss
Roberto Di Matteo has vowed to mastermind a league title challenge after signing a two-year deal to become Chelsea’s permanent manager.
The Italian placed himself firmly in the driving seat to be handed the job full-time after guiding the Blues to an FA Cup and Champions League double following Andre Villas-Boas’s dismissal last season.
The Londoners slumped to a sixth-place finish last term and only secured a place in next season’s Champions League thanks to their dramatic penalty shooutout triumph over Bayern Munich in the final.
“We certainly want to do better in the league,” he said. “Last season was a difficult one and we want to bridge that gap between us and the two Manchester teams and obviously continue to do well in the cup competitions.”
Di Matteo, who has previously managed MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion, joined Chelsea as part of Villas-Boas’s backroom staff when the Portuguese coach began his doomed reign last summer.
The 42-year-old, who becomes the eighth permanent manager to take the reigns under Blues owner Roman Abramovich, admits he is already looking ahead to the new season.
“I had a wonderful break with my family, it was very enjoyable but now the work starts,” he said.
“I have to start planning for pre-season. We’ve lost a few players who are out of contract and we’ve already signed a couple of players, so there will be a slight change, but there won’t be a complete overhaul of the squad.
“I won’t discuss now what we will do in the market, all of that takes place behind the scenes, but we will try to make the right signings for the functionality of the squad.”
Having seen Villas-Boas dismissed after less than eight months in charge, Di Matteo is under no illusions about what is expected of him in his first full season at the Stamford Bridge helm.
“The club have made a decision and I respect any decision which they make,” he said. “I’m just happy that my legacy with this club continues.
“The club’s ambition has always been clear, we’ve shown that in the past and we will continue to do so.
“A new season always brings hope, enthusiasm and excitement. We have a good team and we will try to improve where necessary, but we have a good team already.
“The fans have been superb, last season and over the years when I’ve been here, and I’m sure they are looking forward to it.”
Roberto Di Matteo fact-file
• Having won 34 caps for Italy, Di Matteo sustained a triple leg fracture in a Uefa Cup tie against FC St Gallen early in the 2000-01 campaign and was forced to retire in February 2002. Then-manager Claudio Ranieri asked him to lead out the team for the 2002 FA Cup Final, which Chelsea lost to Arsenal.
• He took charge of MK Dons in July 2008 and, having finished third in the English third tier, was appointed by West Brom the following summer.
• In his first season at The Hawthorns, he led the club to second place in the Championship and promotion to the Premier League but he was sacked in February 2011.
• In June 2011, Di Matteo returned to Chelsea as assistant manager to Andre Villas-Boas and, following the Portuguese coach’s dismissal in March 2012, he was appointed as interim first-team coach for the remainder of the season.
• He led the Blues to an historic FA Cup and Champions League cup double in 2011-12.