Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has said his team cannot play like Barcelona, but promised that the Blues would be equally exciting to watch. Chelsea’s Champions League glory in May was a triumph due to a sense of purpose rather than owner Roman Abramovich’s desire to see ‘Barcelona in blue shirts’. Di Matteo inspired the Blues to the greatest triumph in their history last season when he scrapped former manager Andre Villas-Boas’ plans for change and was rewarded with a UEFA Champions League and FA Cup double.
Villas-Boas had been tasked by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich with transforming the way Chelsea played and the Russian was said to have long held a dream of seeing ‘Barcelona in blue shirts’.“Everybody would like to play like Barcelona but there isn’t another team in the world who play like them,’’ reflected Roberto Di Matteo at Cobham on Friday, breaking off from preparing his players for Sunday’s Community Shield match with Manchester City. “It’s a culture, a way of life, a style Barcelona have produced through the club for many, many years,” added DI Matteo. The £66million splashed out on the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin since the Champions League success suggest Abramovich remains determined to get Chelsea playing more attractively. But Di Matteo, whose appointment on a full-time basis was only confirmed after persistent reports linking the Blues with outgoing Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, has hinted he would not fall into the same trap as Villas-Boas and try to change too much, too soon.
However, Di Matteo refused to be drawn on whether he had learnt from the mistakes of Villas-Boas, saying: “I don’t really want to go back over that too much. Everybody would like to play like Barcelona, but the reality is there isn’t another team in the world who play like them”. Di Matteo inspired the Blues to Champions League and FA Cup double, and said of his methods for the new season: “There won’t be radical changes. Certainly, with the influence of the new players once they are integrated, they will be a bit different because they have different characteristics and abilities.
” He added: “I know we need to win games as well. But I don’t think you can expect a completely different Chelsea overnight. The majority of the team are still here and, with those players, the club have been very successful already.” “It’s a culture, a way of life, a style Barcelona have produced through the club for many, many years,” added DI Matteo. “The aim for a lot of teams and clubs is to get there. But, as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t one who plays like Barca. And there’s only one Lionel Messi around.”
Chelsea have an unprecedented seven trophies to go for this season, starting in Sunday’s traditional curtain-raiser against Manchester City, which is being played this year at Villa Park. “Our biggest aim, or our ambition, is to be able to be challenging at the right end of the season for the trophies that are still available,” Di Matteo said.