Champions League winning Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has told the media that he will not be making any major changes to the team’s playing style this season despite the arrival of technically gifted and pacey attackers, like Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar.
Di Matteo’s side of last season was concentrated on the defence being resilient and as an outfit we were tough to beat, just ask Barcelona and Bayern Munich. We were heavily criticised for these tactics, of course, but we won the FA Cup and Champions League and we played the way we had to in order to lift them, so none of us give a toss about the rubbish our detractors have thrown at us.
The 42-year-old said:
“There will not be radical changes. We will try to make some changes. With the integration of these new players, inevitably we will change how we play a bit. But I never said we were going to play attacking football – we will play to try and win games.”
He also said that the club will be patient with new signing Hazard, who has dreams of playing the number 10 role on the big stage and it would seem as though Di Matteo wants him to realise that dream, but isn’t putting any undue pressure on the 21-year-old Belgian international.
Di Matteo told ESPN:
“Of course we are looking for Eden to be incisive – but we have to be patient. He is a young man, he has come from a different league in France and we need to give him time to adapt.”
I think that he’s being deliberately coy over his tactics because no-one knows which way Chelsea will play during the coming season and perhaps it is best to keep our rivals guessing. Also, we’ve brought in a few young players and may add another one or two before the end of the transfer window, so it will take time to organise them.
Hopefully the pre-season was no indication as to how we will play as it was terrible. I know they were only friendlies and the results do not matter, but fitness and performance does, and we looked particularly sluggish when we reverted back to the dead 4-3-3 formation during the 3-1 loss to Championship side Brighton. We were too predictable and played in straight lines, but I don’t expect to see this when we play 4-2-3-1, with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and either Ramires or Marko Marin providing the magic in the final third.
It will also be interesting to see where our new number 11 Oscar plays in the team and how quickly he will break into it. I’m expecting Eden Hazard will play behind Fernando Torres with Mata on the left and Ramires/Marin/potentially Hulk? on the right. Oscar has already expressed his desire to play and will be willing to do so in any position the manager asks to (take note, Daniel Sturridge).
I reckon the Brazilian may be deployed in central midfield for the most part, alongside John Obi Mikel, who has nailed the holding role. With rumours that this will be Frank Lampard’s last season at the club as his contract expires next summer and he has been linked with a big pay day in the US, do the club see Oscar as a long-term replacement for the England midfielder?