We contest one of our three ‘extra’ competitions at Villa Park on Saturday, and Roberto Di Matteo admits he would love to end the afternoon with more silverware for his collection.
The Italian led us to both the Champions League and FA Cup at the end of last season, the latter leading to our participation in tomorrow’s Community Shield against Manchester City, which precedes matches in the European Super Cup and Club World Cup to come.
Asked about the prospect of fixture congestion, Di Matteo turned the question on its head to suggest we are lucky to be involved in such prestigious occasions.
‘It’s opportunities,’ said the Italian. ‘It’s very hard to be involved in these competitions, so when you look at them it is great to be involved and you want to try to win them because they don’t come around very easily or very often. We will deal with the fixture list.
‘We are going to try and win the trophies where we are involved. It’s a team sport, and it takes a collective effort to be able to achieve that. You have to be able to work with everybody and everybody has to try and give their best, even if they are out of the team for a little while.
‘Our biggest aim or ambition is to be able to be challenging at the right end of the season for the trophies that are still available. We are in new competition which is an opportunity but also to do better in the Premier League.’
Seven competitions suggest Di Matteo will need to make full use of his squad across the campaign, meaning he will need to combine established figures with the new, young talent signed this summer.
‘There won’t be radical changes, certainly with the influence of new players it will be different because they have different characteristics and ability but it will take a bit of time, and I know we need to win games as well,’ he said.
‘I don’t think you have to expect overnight a completely different Chelsea. The majority of the team is still here and with those players the club has been very successful.
‘We have a lot of experienced players and the new players coming in are bringing fresh energy. We are looking to them for the future, to be the next spine or platform for the success. We have to be patient but I believe good players can play together. We will find the right way.’
After Di Matteo confirmed Romelu Lukaku’s likely loan yesterday, he added that Josh McEachran could also benefit from first team football away from Stamford Bridge.
‘We are looking at some options,’ he said. ‘We always have a lot of players in midfield so we are looking at options for Josh to see what the best solution is for him and us. I like him very much but there is a lot of competition, and we have all internationals as well, so sometimes it is difficult for a young player. He is still a very young guy, even though he has been with the first team squad for a couple of years.’