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Di Matteo focussed on the present

Updated: Friday, 04 May 2012 17:55

Roberto Di Matteo says he is not thinking about the prospect of taking over as Chelsea boss on a full-time basis
Roberto Di Matteo says he is not thinking about the prospect of taking over as Chelsea boss on a full-time basis

Roberto Di Matteo was today determined not to make Chelsea's FA Cup final about his past or his future as he backed his players to make their own history tomorrow.

Blues captain John Terry led the tributes to Di Matteo at the club's cup final media day, urging his team-mates to beat Liverpool at Wembley to help their caretaker manager land the job full-time.

But Di Matteo refused to contemplate the consequences of victory for his hopes of being handed the reins by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

One bookmaker has stopped taking bets on Di Matteo's coronation, so spectacularly has he transformed the club's fortunes since being placed in charge two months ago.

But he said: "I'm not thinking about that. People can speculate, write and say whatever they want.

"My position hasn't changed from day one. I know what I have to do from now until the end of the season."

He added of his job prospects: "It's totally irrelevant. I'm just thinking about tomorrow's game and bringing a trophy home."

He continued: "You work so hard all season for these reasons."

Di Matteo was grateful for the backing of his players, saying: "It's great if they feel confident because they're the ones out on the pitch who have to bring the win and the trophy home for us. It's good to see they have belief that we can have success together."

The 41-year-old is also the overwhelming choice among supporters and he added: "I always had a great connection and relationship with the fans, and will have in the future as well."

Di Matteo's status as a Chelsea hero dates back to the 1997 FA Cup final, when he scored the fastest ever goal in the showpiece match at the old Wembley.

Asked how often he thought about that goal, he said: "Not very often, to be honest. People remind me of that, usually when the competition is on, but I've moved on."

The Italian was similarly unsentimental about the fact that he and assistant Eddie Newton - who also scored that day - would be back at Wembley 15 years on.

That would have been unthinkable just two short months ago but Di Matteo said: "We want these guys to win tomorrow. That's what matters to us.

"That would be the biggest satisfaction for the coaching staff."

Di Matteo's goal against Middlesbrough kick-started the cycle of success that ultimately convinced Abramovich to buy Chelsea nine years ago.

They have won the FA Cup five times since 1997, more than any other club.

"No-one knew what the future held for us, but it's great we've been able to bring the trophy home so many times since," said Di Matteo, who has never lost a competitive match at Wembley as a player or a manager.

"I've always been fortunate at Wembley, as well, so hopefully we can continue this trend.

"You won't have many chances in your life to play and manage a club and win trophies, so that would be nice."

Something will have to give at Wembley tomorrow, with Kenny Dalglish having never lost to Chelsea during his two spells as Liverpool manager.

Di Matteo said: "We always had difficult games against Liverpool. They're a good side with excellent players.

"We'll have to be very, very good tomorrow."

The Italian faces a selection headache in midfield and attack, especially with Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres both in such fine form.

"Everybody wants to be part of it tomorrow, to play tomorrow," Di Matteo said, revealing he would decide on his line-up tonight and would not necessarily favour the four players suspended for this month's Champions League final.

"They'll all want to put their bodies on the line."

Torres will be desperate to face his former club, who he left for #50million just over a year ago.

"The fact that it's his old team, that's part of the past," Di Matteo said.

"He's a Chelsea player now and will be for many years. He's been doing well for me since I've been in charge. We all faced criticism for this season, so it's nice when sometimes you don't get all that criticism."

As well as silencing the critics, victory tomorrow would be the perfect boost ahead of Chelsea's Champions League final against Bayern Munich a fortnight later.

Di Matteo said: "That's still far away. We'll be focused on the FA Cup. Every time you win, it's good for body and mind."