Di Matteo likes single-minded Blues
Published 07/10/2012 | 08:12
Roberto Di Matteo hailed his Chelsea players for once again "blanking out" a scandal engulfing the club after watching them thrash Norwich 4-1 to storm four points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
The European champions made it 19 points from 21 this season - their best start since 2006 - as they put the John Terry and Ashley Cole saga out of their minds for 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge.
Di Matteo said: "I think the results are telling us that we are able to blank things out surrounding us externally and that we could focus on what is our aim and target and job, to win football games. It's proven how professional the group is and how well they respond to it."
Chelsea have had plenty of experience playing amid off-field controversy during Terry and Cole's time at the club - but rarely when both have been at the centre of it.
That was exactly what they had to do here after the damning verdict of an independent Football Association regulatory commission on Terry's racist abuse case and Cole's subsequent foul-mouthed Twitter outburst.
The Italian denied a siege mentality had taken hold at Stamford Bridge, where Terry and Cole were predictably feted as heroes.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "That's not what we feel or what is happening with us. We concentrate on our strength and we try to win games with the players that we have and with a football philosophy that we're aiming to play.
"At the moment, the team is a healthy form, we are creating lots of chances, we are scoring lots of goals, and with different goalscorers as well. We don't rely on just one player, so it's a team that is in good shape."
Asked whether his players saw football as a "release", he added: "I don't know but it seems that, at the moment, they are enjoying playing football. It's what they love doing and they are also lucky people to be able to do this as a job.
"We can only try to continue to keep this momentum and form going for ourselves and I think that will help everybody involved going forward."