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May 24, 2012

Di Matteo remains in contention

Roberto Di Matteo's success in recent months has kept him squarely in the frame to be handed the permanent job at Chelsea, chief executive Ron Gourlay confirmed.

• Harris lauds Roman's reign

Di Matteo took over from sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas in March and guided the Blues to their maiden Champions League title, along with the club's seventh FA Cup triumph. Gourlay confirmed the trophies have enhanced Di Matteo's chances, but insists the club will only make a final decision once the board meets with owner Roman Abramovich in the near future.

"(A new manager could be appointed) any time over the next couple of weeks and certainly by the time we go on tour," Gourlay said. "The players report back on July 4th or 5th and in an ideal world you want the coach in position by then.

"It certainly would have made the discussions (with Di Matteo) a bit different. The fact that he has the Champions League on his CV helps him enormously. I know there has been speculation in the press and media about conversations with 'XYZ'. That has not been the case.

"We will sit down as a board of directors with our owner as quickly as we can and take our decision from there. We are going through that process now and then we'll sit down ... it's only been a couple of days (since the season ended)."

Russian oligarch Abramovich has hired nine different managers since purchasing the club in 2003, but Gourlay believes the changes at Stamford Bridge have helped maintain a level of success.

"When you take into account how many managers have been sacked or not, when you look at the success we have had on the field it has been there," he said. "We have demonstrated, whether you like our model or not, and we have delivered.

"Certainly since I have been in the role, we have always done what we believe is right for the football club in the long term."

Villas-Boas was dismissed amid rumours that senior players in the dressing room had angled for him to be removed. Gourlay admitted the players are listened to but stressed they do not have the ultimate say.

"We do listen, but at the end of the day it won't force us to rush into a decision," he said. "We have to get it right.

"The players will always have a view, but at the end of the day it will be the owners and the board of directors that will decide the best way forward. Of course we speak to the players and we're always listening, but we won't get into the scenario where the players pick the next manager."

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