Roberto Di Matteo
Di Matteo is in contention to succeed Villas-Boas as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has realised the 41-year-old's impact on the team Reuters

Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as a surprise front-runner to become the Chelsea manager on a permanent basis, after spearheading the London club's recent rejuvenation, according to a Daily Mail report.

The Italian, who was appointed as the interim coach after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked recently, has given Chelsea some much-needed momentum by guiding the club to the FA Cup semi-finals and a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-finals against Benfica.

The report says another factor that could convince club owner Roman Abramovich to back Di Matteo full time is the latter's relationship with senior players like Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Additionally, the administration and players are belived to have been impressed with their manager's tactical acumen and strategies.

Moreover, Di Matteo has also been credited with lifting the spirits of both the players and the fans and there is still hope Chelsea can finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, to earn the right to play Champions League football next year... unless, of course, the Blues actually win it this year!

Former Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle has also backed Di Matteo to be given the job on a permanent basis.