London – Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo insists his players are still hungry for more silverware in the aftermath of their astonishing Champions League and FA Cup double last season.
Di Matteo led Chelsea to their first Champions League title in dramatic fashion as the Blues defeated Bayern Munich on penalties in their own stadium.
That memorable night in Munich followed hot on the heels of an FA Cup final victory over Liverpool and it would be easy for Di Matteo's players to rest on their laurels after such a remarkable campaign.
But Di Matteo, now installed as Chelsea's permanent boss after his spell as interim manager last season, is convinced his team's motivation remains as high as ever and he expects Chelsea to send a message to their rivals with a strong performance in Sunday's Community Shield clash against Manchester City at Villa Park.
“There's plenty of trophies to win this season,” Di Matteo said on Friday. “We have a very driven team of players and they are never satisfied with what they've done in the past.
“It's a fresh start for us. It won't be a problem from that point of view.
“There are a couple of trophies our players have never won, and challenging for the Premier League, too.
“We finished sixth last season and I don't think anybody is happy with that. We certainly have to do better.”
Avoiding a repeat of their lowest Premier League finish in owner Roman Abramovich's nine-year reign is Di Matteo's top priority after Chelsea ended sixth, 25 points behind champions City.
“There was a big gap last season, and that is one of our challenges this season, to bridge that gap,” Di Matteo said.
“Twenty-five points are a lot of points. It'll be a tough season ahead but we'll try and compete.”
Although City won their first English title for 44 years last season, Di Matteo has warned Roberto Mancini's men they will find it much harder to repeat that success.
“When you're the top, it's harder to stay at the top than get to the top,” Di Matteo said.
“There'll be plenty of clubs trying to catch them up this season.
“To play and win against Manchester City would be a great win for us.
“It would certainly give us the right step into the Premier League.”
Di Matteo has over £60 million ($94 million) of new talent to blend into his team this season after splashing out on Brazilian midfielder Oscar, Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard and German winger Marko Marin.
The Blues have also made several offers for Wigan's Nigerian forward Victor Moses, according to Latics chairman Dave Whelan.
But Di Matteo reacted with mock ignorance to Whelan's decision to go public with that information, joking: “He generally doesn't do that, does he?”
And Di Matteo did not want to discuss the Football Association's decision to charge John Terry over allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand despite the Chelsea captain being cleared of essentially the same offence by a court of law.
Di Matteo said: “That's a very delicate issue. I'll keep my thoughts private.” – AFP