Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo accepts results will determine his long-term future in charge at Stamford Bridge – and will not let anything deflect his focus from delivering success next season.
The popular Italian, 42, was confirmed as the Blues permanent boss last month, having guided them to both FA Cup and then European glory after taking over on an interim basis following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, who was yesterday appointed new Tottenham manager.
Di Matteo, however, knows that despite all of his good work last season, and the esteem in which he is held by the Chelsea fans from his successful playing career, that will all count for nothing should things not go to plan again on the pitch.
“I have been in football all my life. I clearly know that managers are judged by results as simple as that. It’s no different for me than anybody else,” Di Matteo said.
“The end of the season was remarkable and the team was outstanding in achieving those targets, but that is the past – now we look to the future and we have to start again.
“We have to try and get running from the start and be competitive in all the competitions we are involved in.
“We have the quality and the players to compete. With Chelsea you are always looking to compete and be in the frame to win something at the end of the season, that will be the key.”
Di Matteo becomes the eighth permanent boss of Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
However, the Italian is not about to concern himself with suggestions he is only keeping the dugout warm for Pep Guardiola, who is on a self-imposed year-long sabbatical after leaving Barcelona.
“Speculation is out there every day. I have lived with it pretty well and I will continue to do so,” said Di Matteo.
“I don’t feel any shadow above or behind me. I focus on my job and try to do the best I can. Everyone else can say what they want.”
Di Matteo accepts there must be an improvement on Chelsea’s Barclays Premier League form, which resulted in only a sixth-placed finish and would have seen them miss out on Champions League football if they had not won a dramatic penalty shootout in Munich.
Didier Drogba may have departed, but Chelsea have moved to bring in Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard from Lille and Germany midfielder Marko Marin from Werder Bremen.
There have also been reports the Blues are in talks with Porto for a big money transfer for Brazilian striker Hulk.
Di Matteo, though, was giving little away at this morning’s pre-season press conference.
“I am pretty happy with the team,” he said. “We will monitor the market and if there is any other good opportunities to increase the quality and we are able to do it, we will move for it.”
When pressed on Hulk, the Chelsea manager added: “I am not going to discuss our targets. Every time you say something the price goes up.”
Di Matteo also revealed there had as yet been no firm decision on the futures of Florent Malouda and Yossi Benayoun, who spent last season loaned to Arsenal.
“They are part of the club and I expect everyone to be here at the start of pre-season. We will monitor it and see what happens,” he said.
Di Matteo has confirmed Daniel Sturridge was suffering from viral meningitis, but remained hopeful the striker would be fit to take his part in Team GB’s Olympic squad.
The Blues boss also hoped midfielder Frank Lampard, who missed England’s Euro 2012 campaign through injury, will be fit for the new campaign.
Chelsea are set for a pre-season tour of the United States before returning to build towards the FA Community Shield against champions Manchester City at Villa Park on August 12.