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Pardew and Di Matteo: The comeback kings

Posted on August 25th, 2012 | 7 Comments |

Alan Pardew and Roberto di Matteo.
Two Phoenixes who have risen from the ashes.
In a football world which is used to great turns of fortune, the two protagonists in today’s game at Stamford Bridge, Swiss Supremo, Roberto di Matteo, and our own Silver Supremo, Alan Pardew, have arguably seen two of the greatest.

Firstly, there is the fall and rise of Chelsea manager, Roberto di Matteo. After getting promotion with West Brom alongside Chris Hughton and our lot, and a good start to their subsequent Premiership campaign, his and West Brom’s form then nosedived, with only one win in ten games. The then seemingly perennial “yo-yo” club looked like they were heading for relegation once more, and the Swiss Italian was sacked and thrown on the managerial scrapheap.

After losing out to the aforementioned Hughton for the managerial position at Birmingham City, a blessing in disguise some might say with the chaos unravelling behind the scenes there, he was taken on as assistant to Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea. Of course, it would be something of an understatement to say that Villas Boas’s new approach had a few teething problems, and there is no time for those with Chelsea managers. So within months, di Matteo found himself in charge of one of the world’s richest clubs, and competing for some of the highest honours in the game. In less than 25 games, which were full of the grit and defensive discipline that was missing under his predecessor, and less than a year and a quarter after being thrown on the managerial scrap heap, di Matteo was a Champion’s League winning manager, and an FA Cup winning manager to boot.

Of course it’s very early days yet, but di Matteos first full season in charge of the Pensioners has begun with two straight victories, against Wigan and Reading, a 100% record we will be hoping to end this afternoon. In his pre match press call, he acknowledged that Newcastle United will be a very tough test, and looking at Newcastle united’s recent record at Stamford Bridge, that Chelsea’s home advantage in this game may count for little. He explained:

“We always have difficult games against Newcastle really. They’re a very good team, I have to say they have some great players with alot of quality within the team (hands off Roberto!). We haven’t beaten them at Stamford Bridge since 2007, so that tells you what kind of team Newcastle is, but also that we tend to have difficult games against them.”

Well fingers crossed that the Chelsea Pensioners have yet another “difficult” game against the Magpies this time!

Of course, if our own Silver Supremo managed the same feat as Di Matteo, the heads of many Toon fans would probably explode with sheer delight. Though he hasn’t quite managed to win the greatest prize in club football, his own rise like a Phoenix from the ashes hasn’t been entirely dissimilar, and he did manage to pip di Matteo to one or two personal honours as he was voted “Manager of the Season” twice, by both the Premier League and the League Managers Association last season.

All but two years ago, Pardew found himself on the managerial scrapheap too. After his managerial career hit absolute rock bottom at Charlton Athletic, where he got them relegated once, then almost got them relegated twice before the axe fell, he eventually found a lifeline at Southampton. However his job there didn’t last much longer than a year before he was sacked by Southampton too amidst reports of low staff morale and conflicts between himself and Southampton’s chairman, Nicola Cortese. I will not go into some of the rather spicy dressing room rumours surrounding his exit from the South coast club here.

I presume that most of you reading this are Toon fans and you know the rest as well as I, so I will spare you that too. Suffice to say that he has carried on the great work of his predecessor and we now find ourselves to be scaling the heights of European competition like Chelsea, albeit in the lesser Europa League. Some might say that even missing out on the Champions League was a fairly close call for the Silver one, and it goes without saying that he hasn’t been given quite the same resources by our billionaire owner as his Swiss counterpart in West London has by his! And of course, we mustn’t forget that last time this fixture was played, Pardew came out as the 0-2 victor over di Matteo, albeit that he had another rather important match on his mind at the time and the glory that night undoubtedly belonged to a certain Senegalese hitman with one great goal, an then an even greater one.

Getting back to today’s match though, Pardew had this to say on the opposition:

“Chelsea are the European champions. They won the Champions League and they have improved since then – Hazard looks a great buy. We know him well, so we know what to expect from him. There are no surprises in that team, but I think in some ways, we can match them and give a good showing there.”

I for one would have liked to see the look on Mike Ashley’s face if Pardew asked him to outbid Chelsea for that particular Belgian playmaker! :-)

I’m not so sure that we shall see a repeat of that night, and we will probably do well to come back with a point. Then again, if you asked me in the first half of our previous game against the side now managed be di Matteo’s predecessor if we were going to come out of that one with three points, I must admit that I’d have probably said no, so I’ll live in hope!

Howay the Lads!

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NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1055 articles on this blog.

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7 Responses

  1. Great post as always, looking forward to the game but we are going to have to be a lot sharper than we were last weekend to do anything against Chelsea. Like you though, here’s hoping!

  2. Hopefully its A lucky place for Papisse. If Ben Arfa can repeat his last performance then we have a chance. Toon Army!

  3. I often wonder, with the present squad, how we woud do if we had a real manager?
    Someone who had an understanding of the modern game.
    Unfortunately we are stuck with AP, a manager with a not too impressive history, who’s main reason for being here is his willingness to comply with Ashleys wishes.
    A birds of a feather type of relationship, which i believe he (Ashley)did’nt have with our previous manager.
    The reason being i doubt if he ever really trusted Hughton, who although very successful, was never meant to be more than a stop gap manager, while Ashley was looking for someone he could do business with.
    As it turned out AP was that someone, along with Llambias they make quite a trio.
    However if anyone deserves credit it should be our head scout and Hughton apointee Carr, who imo has put to-gether a pretty good bunch of players, which in spite of AP have done a pretty good job , so far.

  4. Chuck: Christopher Hitchens was a weird bloke. He had some very odd views on Iraq and Mother Theresa for example.

    Swansea top of the league, so it tells you how much I know :)

  5. GS says:
    August 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    “Chuck: Christopher Hitchens was a weird bloke. He had some very odd views on Iraq and Mother Theresa for example.”

    He did have a point about Mother Theresa, GS.

  6. This came up on my Chelsea NewsNow and it has been quite a good read. This is a fixture I’ve been dreading as Newcastle truly are a good team, Pardew and the scouting team deserve credit and I wouldn’t be surprised if you finished about Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool, maybe even us. Expecting a high scoring draw but either team could snatch it.

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