May 6 2012
Roberto di Matteo claimed his Chelsea old guard delivered the perfect response to their critics with their 2-1 FA Cup final triumph over Liverpool - but flat-batted speculation over his own future on yet another good day for the Blues at Wembley.
Goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba proved enough to repel Liverpool's late rally, with Petr Cech making an incredible save to deny substitute Andy Carroll, who had already pulled the Merseyside outfit back into the game.
Inspired defensive performances from John Terry and Ashley Cole also helped Chelsea on their way to a fourth FA Cup success in six years, and Di Matteo said: "We've had a difficult season and a lot of criticism... The answer was today on the pitch. The football is always the best way to deliver the answer."
Drogba became the first player to score in four finals, Terry became the first captain in the modern era to lift the trophy on four occasions, while Ashley Cole was collecting an incredible seventh winners' medal.
Inevitably, discussion then turned to Di Matteo himself. A stop-gap when he was asked to step in following Andre Villas-Boas's exit on March 4, the Italian has performed an incredible restoration job.
He is now odds-on favourite to be handed the reigns on a permanent basis and it is hard to see how owner Roman Abramovich could justify dispensing with his services if Chelsea are triumphant against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on May 19.
Yet Di Matteo has not spoken to Abramovich about his specific situation, and insists he is happy to let "the boss" come to the correct conclusion.
"It's irrelevant," the Italian said. "The boss will make the decision and we'll respect it. The players will be fine. I am very fortunate person, so it's not an issue for me."
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was left to lament his side's inability to make an impact until Carroll was introduced just before the hour mark.
"We were excellent for the last half hour, but the game lasts for 90 minutes," said the Scot. "You can't give a team like Chelsea a two-goal head start. It's credit to our lads that they went close to an equaliser after Andy scored, but they had left themselves too much to do."