First of all, many thanks to Birmingham City. Because if they had not turned down Roberto Di Matteo’s application to be their manager last summer, our 2011-12 season might have had a rather more apocalyptic look to it.
Consider this possible horror scenario: we could have had Spurs competing in the Champions League instead of us, we could be lamenting that our golden generation was never destined to win the Champions League and we could have had Rafa Benitez sitting in the manager’s chair, signing up all of his old favourites from his time at Anfield.
Instead of that, Tottenham are preparing for another Europa League campaign and looking for a new manager, we finally have the trophy with the big ears sitting in our cabinet and the club have done the right thing by taking the ‘interim’ away from Robbie’s job title and given him the job that he deserved and was probably destined to do.
As Chelsea fans, we haven’t really had much of a say in our manager since the days when we let it be known where George Graham could be shoved. But while I doubt that it was pressure from the fans that ultimately got Robbie the full-time job, it is good to know that one of our favourite sons will still be in charge at the start of the new season.
Now I mean no disrespect to the likes of Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or Carlo Ancelotti who brought success to the club and endeared themselves to us as supporters during their time at the Bridge. But those were men hired because of what they had done at other clubs and who had little connection with Chelsea before they took charge.
Robbie, on the other hand, is and will always be a Chelsea legend. Not just for his exploits in May but for what he did for us during his playing days.
For Chelsea fans of a certain age, his goal after 42 seconds against Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup final was just as important as anything that has happened to the club since. Yes, even more important than the events of Munich.
Let’s put it into perspective: we had not won anything of importance for 26 years and we had never won anything at Wembley other than the Full Members Cup in its 74 years of existence. But with one glorious swing of his right boot, Robbie helped to end all those years of frustration which ushered in a period that has seen us lift 15 trophies in the past 15 years.
He went on to score goals in two other Wembley cup finals, showing the knack for scoring on the big occasion that would only be surpassed a decade later by Didier Drogba.
There was a time when the club would give former players like Eddie McCreadie, Ken Shellito or John Hollins, or squad members like Ruud Gullit or Gianluca Vialli the chance to take charge of the team despite their lack of managerial experience. But such are the expectations now that we have continually looked not just outside the club but abroad to find a new manager in the past decade.
But while Robbie’s elevation to the manager’s chair at the Bridge may have owed much to circumstance, it is clear that we have one of the brightest young football managers now in charge of our team.
It could be argued that apart from his spells at MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion, he had little managerial experience before his return to the Bridge. But it was still more than what Pep Guardiola had before he was put in charge of Barca’s first team in 2008.
Granted that luck played a huge part in our Champions League victory with missed penalties and missed chances aplenty against Barcelona and Bayern. But the fact of the matter is that he sorted out our formation, repaired the shattered confidence of the players, got them to raise their effort for the crucial run-in and formulated game plans that ultimately led the club to its greatest ever success.
And he was also not afraid to make bold decisions like bringing in Ryan Bertrand to start in the final and leaving out Fernando Torres from his list of penalty takers.
Most importantly for Chelsea fans, Roberto Di Matteo bleeds blue and is unquestionably one of us.
So true to the cause that in 2010, while he was still manager of West Brom, he told the media “Chelsea is in my heart and will always be in my heart.”
Please note : the views in many of our blogs are written by fans of Chelsea FC and are not necessarily the views of the club