CHELSEA, Di Matteo: "A new season brings hope, enthusiasm and excitement"
© foto di Daniele Buffa/Image Sport
Having been handed the managerial reins on a permanent basis at Stamford Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo was understandably delighted, and he told Chelsea TV that he cannot wait to get started as we look to build on the success of last season.
The Italian put pen to paper on a two-year deal, and after taking a richly deserved holiday following the excitement and exhaustion of the Champions League Final, he is looking forward to welcoming his players back for pre-season training next month.
'It was a very intense end to the season, I'm enjoying the break right now but already looking forward to next season,' he said.
'The club have made a decision and I respect any decision which they make. I'm just happy that my legacy with this club continues.
'The club's ambition has always been clear, we've shown that in the past and we will continue to do so.'
While the 2011/12 campaign will quite rightly be remembered for the success we enjoyed in both the Champions League and FA Cup, our sixth-place league finish was a source of immense frustration for everybody connected with the club.
The departure of Didier Drogba leaves a big hole to fill, while other players currently at the end of their contracts could yet move on to pastures new.
However, with the signings of creative players such as Eden Hazard and Marko Marin already confirmed, and the possibility of more additions to come, Di Matteo's immediate focus is on closing the gap on last season's top two.
'I had a wonderful break with my family, it was very enjoyable but now the work starts,' he admitted.
'I have to start planning for pre-season. We've lost a few players who are out of contract and we've already signed a couple of players, so there will be a slight change, but there won't be a complete overhaul of the squad.
'I won't discuss now what we will do in the market, all of that takes place behind the scenes, but we will try to make the right signings for the functionality of the squad.
'We certainly want to do better in the league; last season was a difficult one and we want to bridge that gap between us and the two Manchester teams and obviously continue to do well in the cup competitions.'
The decision to offer Di Matteo the role on a permanent basis will undoubtedly please both players and supporters alike.
A popular figure from his days patrolling the Blues' midfield in the late 1990s, not to mention scoring an array of both crucial and spectacular goals, his reputation among the Chelsea faithful was enhanced further after guiding the squad through the trickiest tests at the end of last season, both domestically and in Europe, securing our fourth FA Cup in six years and culminating in that never-to-be-forgotten Munich triumph.
Not one to dwell on past achievements, however, he insisted that it's now time to look forward, and he believes he has more than enough quality at his disposal to ensure the 2012/13 campaign, much like the previous one, could be one to remember.
'We return in early July, but the players at the Euros will come back later and there's also the possibility of some of our players going to the Olympics as well,' he confirmed.
'A new season always brings hope, enthusiasm and excitement. We have a good team and we will try to improve where necessary, but we have a good team already. The fans have been superb, last season and over the years when I've been here, and I'm sure they are looking forward to it.'
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