Introducing a regular morning segment. It did well when I tried it on Twitter over the last few days, and lord knows everyone loves a reliable appointment post, as compared to all the others that have come and gone on the Footy Blog.
So, let’s break this down. When the little-known and little-regarded Israeli national team manager Avram Grant succeeded Jose Mourinho as Chelsea gaffer in 2007 and took the club to two Cup finals that season only to lose, most put his success down to building on Jose Mourinho’s template. The players were already drilled in the Mourinho style; Grant was just an Abaramovich crony keeping the seat warm for someone half decent. The Myth of the All-Powerful Manager remained intact.
This time around, Roberto Di Matteo has lifted Chelsea to successes though beyond the reach of a club that suffered under Andre Villas-Boas’ “project.” Now the popular line says the players are simply happy to be free of an idealist pushing an unwanted tactical vision, which of course insinuates Di Matteo is at best a cheerleader for individually-talented players, and at worst, some guy. Charitably, it should be said Di Matteo’s team is well-drilled, and tactically-disciplined, despite John Terry being a maniac.
Still, that sort of thing doesn’t exactly take an idealist in the Luis Enrique/Guardiola/Aron Winter mode, but a very talented roster playing with that ineffable but no less crucial quality: confidence. There’s an argument to be made that perhaps teams are able to succeed without a grandstanding, idealist playing around with passing charts and complex formational chalkboards. Is there something to this? Hate Thread below.