Why Chelsea were right to go young with Roberto Di Matteo
33-year-old boss + 41-year old no.2 = disaster? Don’t be so sure…
The reaction to Andre Villas Boas’ decision to hire an assistant only eight years older than his 33-year-old self in Roberto Di Matteo has been one of shock that the Portuguese tactician didn’t opt to add an experienced head to his setup.
The selection of another up-and-coming coach shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise though given that Villas Boas went down a similar route at Porto with emphatic results. He hired 42-year-old Vitor Pereira from second division side Santa Clara and was rewarded for his boldness with four trophies.
Indeed, as Roman Abramovich has realised, taking a risk and putting a young talent in the dugout is proving an increasingly successful strategy, first made fashionable, naturally, by Barcelona with Pep Guardiola. Recent trends indicate that the same pattern is developing with number twos.
In the six countries currently boasting the highest UEFA coefficients – England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal – the table-topping assistant were all aged under 51, with the two that have been on the planet for the shortest period adding shiny European gongs to their league titles.
Guardiola’s deputy at the Camp Nou, Tito Vilanova, got his hands on the trophy with the big ears for the second time, not bad going for a 41-year-old, while Pereira’s gamble in leaving a leading role for a supporting seat with Villas Boas earned him a Europa League winners’ medal and now a chance in the main chair in his absence.
So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Di Matteo is abandoning a career in management for a cushy backroom position at his former home. Instead, it looks a shrewd move to jump aboard the AVB bandwagon, and one that could land him the title he failed to win at Stamford Bridge as a player.