Di Matteo: Others teams were better

Roberto Di Matteo has insisted Chelsea deserve to be 22 points behind Manchester City and Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League this season.

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Caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo watched the top two slug it out in Monday night's potential title decider at the Etihad Stadium, a match which has come under fire for the lack of quality on show from both sides.

Sixth-placed Chelsea, on the other hand, have taken the Champions League and FA Cup by storm since Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas almost two months ago, reaching the finals of each competition.

They have also matched City and United almost point for point in the Premier League but Di Matteo said: "The table usually doesn't lie. We have had our difficulties this season.

"We're hoping to finish the season successfully and as good as we can.

"They have won more games and won more points. The table always reflects the truth."

Asked how Chelsea could bridge the gap, he said: "I am very happy with the players we have and the squad we have.

"We have had a difficult season and we have to respect that other teams have done better than us."

Chelsea have a chance to cut the gap to 19 points on Wednesday night and - more importantly - edge closer to finishing in the top four when they play their game in hand with fifth-placed Newcastle.

The match is the latest in a nightmare schedule that has seen them play twice a week since Di Matteo took charge.

There will be no respite at the end of the season either for some of the Blues players, with a European Championship and Olympic Games to come.

Di Matteo admitted he would not want Chelsea's stars to play at the Olympics were he to be appointed manager on a full-time basis.

But he insisted he would not deny them the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to win gold for their countries at London 2012.

Both Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger have hit out at the prospect of their players featuring in both tournaments.

Di Matteo was not about to stand in the way of playmaker Juan Mata, who has expressed a desire to do so with Spain.

"The players will love the experience of playing in the Olympics," he said.

"As much as you may not want them to play in it, you have to respect it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them to be involved.

"As a manager and as a coach, you'd like them not to do it, but you have to respect if they want to do it."

The former Italy midfielder added: "I remember when I was playing, it was great to be able to play a European Championship or World Cup after the season.

"As much as it was demanding, it was a fantastic experience for a football player. Every professional would want to be involved rather than not."

He added: "I think it is just a question of managing the aftermath of any tournament in the summer. It can be managed."



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