• Bayern manager says Di Matteo should get long-term role
• 'If you look at his life and his career, you know he's very cool'
The Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes has praised the impact made by Roberto Di Matteo in his capacity as Chelsea's interim first-team coach and urged Roman Abramovich to appoint the Italian on a long-term basis at Stamford Bridge.
Heynckes, a World Cup and European Championship winner with Germany as a player and a veteran of 33 years as a coach, will attempt to become the fourth manager to claim the European Cup with two different clubs on Saturday when his side confront Chelsea at their own Allianz Arena. The 67-year-old, who won the trophy at Real Madrid in 1998, is well aware of frenzied local expectations and called for calm as Bayern attempt to claim the cup for the first time since 2001.
The German had steered Real to their first European Cup in 32 years but was still dismissed in the wake of that victory, a fate that could await Di Matteo. The Italian's contract expires on 30 June and he does not expect to be offered the managerial position on a long-term basis, regardless of the result in Munich.
"The decision is not in my hands, but he has brought Chelsea all the way to the final with a very calm attitude," said Heynckes. "He's done a marvellous job and I can't see why the result in the final should have any consequences on his prospects. You need continuity at clubs. The harmony between the players and the coach is very important, and I don't think there's any argument for him not to continue.
"I'm not surprised by his performance. If you look at his life, his career, and his experience on the pitch, you know he's a very cool, controlled person. Chelsea were in a difficult position and needed someone like that. Someone who would restructure the team and make them more compact. He's achieved that, going back to his Italian roots. Communication is so important in modern football, not just among the players but between the players and the coach, and he's also done that very well. Step by step, he's created harmony.
"When I was at Madrid, I knew even by the December of that season that I would be sacked and, if they hadn't dismissed me, I would have resigned. That was clear in my head, so I didn't think it was 'unfair' when I left. That's what happens at Real Madrid. Chelsea are a huge club in Europe and they might be looking for someone who has already won something, who has claimed titles. They could be the attributes they are seeking in a new coach. But I'll say it again: Di Matteo has made an excellent impression on me and, if I was Abramovich, I would continue with this young man."
Bayern are expected to employ Anatoliy Tymoshchuk alongside Jérôme Boateng at the heart of their defence in place of the suspended Holger Badstuber, with fears over Arjen Robben's fitness allayed and the former Chelsea winger set to start the final. They will begin the match as favourites, playing as they are in their home ground where they have won 14 of their last 15 European matches, though Heynckes has urged caution.
"Maybe I'll drive the team bus through Munich and the players will see all the red and white flags, and we could get out and talk to people," he joked. "That would be fantastic preparation for a Champions League final, wouldn't it? Listen, two years ago, [the club's president] Uli Hoeness said he had a dream: to play the Champions League final in our own stadium. We've made it. But now we need some realism.
"We're up against a team with huge experience, fantastic organisation and outstanding players. Look at Chelsea's results, both in the group stage and the knockout, and there's sufficient warning there for everybody. I don't share the euphoria you hear outside that we're the favourites. In a final, there are no favourites.
"Chelsea have players who have won everything apart from this trophy, and it's their dream to win it too. So it's wiser to be humble, modest and rely upon our own Champions League experience. We have played some great home matches in this competition this season, and it'll now be necessary to play one more. At least we know every blade of grass on this pitch; this is our home, and that could make a difference."