AN INTRIGUING week of European action left me wondering whether the answer to Chelsea’s search for a new manager could be on their own doorstep.
Roberto Di Matteo might be the man at the helm – and it doesn’t seem all that long since he was in the visitors dug-out at the Galpharm with MK Dons – but as Napoli were knocked out in that memorable Champions League clash, John Terry seemed top be pulling the strings, both on the Stamford Bridge pitch and off.
Along with other members of the old guard, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, he produced a superb performance as the Blues overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit, and left us all wondering why they couldn’t play like that under Andres Villas-Boas.
Not only was Terry a rock in the heart of defence, but he took his goal with real aplomb.
Then, after coming off during extra time, Terry could be seen standing alongside Di Matteo tweaking and cajoling the team for the crucial final stages.
It’s difficult to imagine a player doing the manager’s job for him at certain other clubs, but Chelsea are a different kettle of fish.
AVB took on the establishment and lost, illustrating what a grip the senior players have.
Any new manager will have to deal with that situation, to perhaps the best policy would be to put one of them in charge.
Terry would certainly have the backing of the supporters, and there’s no doubt he is a strong character and natural leader who has the respect of his teammates.
Some might say he has no managerial experience, so taking on such a big job would be a step too far.
But look back to Kenny Dalglish, when he moved from playing into his first spell as manager of Liverpool and had real success, with three league titles and two FA Cups.
There’s no doubt the older-end players who have served Chelsea so well over the years have to be eased out with the younger ones being given their chance, but perhaps AVB went about it too quickly.
Di Matteo now has the chance to put a Champions League crown on his CV, but it’s hard to see him being handed the reins on a long-term basis.
As for the quarter-final draw, there can be few complaints in West London.
Surprise package APOEL Nicosia might have been the opponents everyone else wanted, but while Benfica emerged from Manchester United’s group and have a dangerous striker in Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo, they are certainly beatable.
Chelsea, who have the advantage of playing away first, have two former Benfica players in David Luis and Ramires, so they will provide some insight into what is in store over in Portugal.
Should Di Matteo’s men get through to the last four, they will face a formidable task against either Barcelona or AC Milan, which is the plum last-eight tie.
But to have success in the Champions League, you have to beat the best at some stage or another, so Chelsea can have few complaints.
Bring it on!