The 2012/2012 Premier League season started at the usual frenetic pace that most of its fan were used to; lots of tension, flamboyant displays and goals galore. It featured new faces, teams, managers, player and certain 50 million pound striker who was yet to win over many of his critics. The opening stages saw Manchester United demolish Arsenal by an 8-2 score line (a development that led tight-pursed Arsene Wenger make 5 signings in 3 days to bolster his stuttering squad) only for the same team to suffer a 1-6 home drubbing in the hands of their “noisy neighbours”, Manchester City. This one was shaping up to be a true classic.
On the European front, the English teams have been disappointing with Chelsea being the only team to reach the Semi Final Stages of the Champions League, leading people in some quarters to suggest that the standard of the English game has fallen. It has been a truly dramatic season in the Premier League as Teams have come from the championship to play some really good football and grab valuable points along the way but another script has been playing underground; the story of two Italians and a Spaniard bound by their first name – Roberto.
The 47 year old Italian was appointed the Manager of Manchester City in December 2009 following the sacking of Mark Hughes. In his first full season he won the FA Cup defeating local rivals Manchester United on the way. He also qualified Manchester City for Europe finishing third ahead of Arsenal.
The Citizens started the current campaign like a house on fire winning 12 of their first 14 matches, and scoring an impressive 48 goals while only conceding 13. This led to consecutive player of the month awards for revitalized Dzeko and Silva in the months of August and September respectively while Mancini cupped the manager of the month award in October for impressive displays. Many were impressed with the impact of Agüero and Nasri which had given City an exciting, attacking verve.
Manchester City has since lost a bit of their early season form and now sit second, 5 points behind champions Manchester United leading many to speculate about the future of the manager. Even if he falls short of the premier league crown many fans will not forget him for leading them to their best finish in years and more importantly, inflicting the 6-1 defeat on their local rivals, their worst since 1955.
The Swiss-born Italian played for Chelsea between 1996 and 2002. His passing ability and accurate long-distance shooting saw him become one of the driving forces of Chelsea’s resurgence in the late 1990s. He contributed nine goals in his first season, including long-range efforts against both Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon. He helped the club finish 6th in the league, their highest placing since 1989–90, and reaching the 1997 FA Cup Final at Wembley.
He began his managerial career at MK Dons where he led them to the playoffs which they lost. He then took over at West Bromwich Albion where he got them back to the premier league in only his first season at the club. He only spend 6 months with WBA in the Premier League; getting the boot after a 0-3 home loss to Manchester United even though most of the fans were still behind him.
On the 29 June 2011, Di Matteo was announced as the assistant manager to new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. On 4 March 2012 he was appointed caretaker manager of Chelsea until the end of the season following the sacking of Villas-Boas. In his short stint, he has led Chelsea to 9 wins in 11 games including their 5-1 over local rival Tottenham through which they booked a ticket to meet Liverpool in the final. Another notable achievement of the 41 year old manager was his ability to galvanize the Chelsea backroom after the former boss had bruised a lot of Chelsea “Big Boy” egos.
Martínez played as a midfielder and began his career at lower league Spanish side CF Balaguer. Two years later he went to English Third Division side Wigan Athletic. Becoming part of a small Spanish contingent at the club, alongside Jesús Seba and Isidro Díaz, he was a regular first team player for six years – the longest period of time he spent at a club.
He moved to Swansea City in 2003; in his first season Martínez was chosen as the team captain and helped the Welsh side avoid relegation from the Football League. He formed an important part of the team from 2003 to 2006, making 122 league appearances and captaining them to League Two promotion in 2005. He moved to Chester City, again playing as captain, but in 2007 former club Swansea City approached Martínez, offering him the position of manager. He accepted the offer and soon brought success to the team, winning three consecutive Manager of the Month awards.
Martinez’s managerial career has shown great promise and many have touted the 38 year old to be one of the best young managers in the game. The current season has been a challenging one for him though; with his team sitting in the relegation zone for most parts of it. He has enjoyed the backing of the club chairman and he has repaid the faith with an improvement in form that saw him defeat Manchester United and Arsenal in back to back games.
As the current premier League campaign draws to a close, the three Robertos are chasing different things; the Premier League crown, European glory and the pride of being among the elite teams in England. And TownCrierNaija wishes them well in their endeavours.