Di Matteo blasts Blues critics
Physical and mental demands are crazy, says Chelsea boss
Last Updated: April 23, 2012 2:49pm
Roberto Di Matteo: Has hit out at Chelsea's critics after guiding the club to the brink of cup success
Roberto Di Matteo believes his Chelsea side have been unfairly branded "the worst team in England" this season.
The caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo has overseen a remarkable resurgence since he took charge in March, with the club still harbouring ambitions of an FA Cup and UEFA Champions League double.
But there was some criticism of Chelsea's supposedly negative tactics in Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final first-leg victory over Barcelona.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger then questioned their approach in Saturday's stalemate at the Emirates Stadium.
And these claims come after regular accusations of the Blues' old guard no longer being up for the challenge this season.
Di Matteo has kept his own counsel but when it was pointed out that Manchester United had been praised for their handling of veteran midfielders Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, the 41-year-old admitted his frustrations.
"Thank you very much. Thank you very much," he said.
"What can I say? From where I'm sitting, we are one point now behind Tottenham, in the final of the FA Cup and semi-final of the Champions League, and we seem to be the worst team in England, you know?
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"That's what it feels like sometimes."
Asked if the criticism had been used to motivate his players, he said: "I'm not going to tell you what I use!
"I'm not saying it's unfair. We respect everybody's opinion."
The Italian made eight changes for the weekend draw at Arsenal ahead of Tuesday's trip to Barcelona for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, but denies he is prepared to sacrifice a top-four spot this season.
"We are not sacrificing everything," he added. "I've always tried to select a team that is able to win the games.
"The regret is that we've lost many, many points before.
"What we've been doing in the last six weeks, I think the points tally is very good."
Although Chelsea are just a point behind Tottenham, it is Newcastle who are four points ahead in fourth spot after beating Stoke on Saturday.
And Di Matteo added: "We're going to try until the last game and keep going until it's mathematically impossible for us.
"We've a crazy schedule as well, as you all know. So we're just going to keep going and, at the end, we'll see where we stand.
"Our team has played the third game in less than six days. It's crazy.
"It's crazy the demand, physically and mentally on the players. It's enormous. I'm not sure people can actually visualise how much it is.
"It's tough and you could see towards the end some of our players were getting a little bit tired. It's just human."
"These players have been in this position probably many times before and under this kind of pressure and it doesn't really faze them too much.
Roberto Di Matteo Quotes of the week
But Di Matteo is confident fatigue will not be a factor on Tuesday.
"The tiredness will be there for all the teams, for both teams, not just for us," he said.
"We have a good squad that allows us to compete and to challenge until the end for these competitions and we are pleased with it.
"These players have been in this position probably many times before and under this kind of pressure and it doesn't really faze them too much."