If the fans had a vote, they would give him the job today. At least for a season, to see if he could build on the miracle of Munich. And if it didn't work out, there would be a decent chance that Pep Guardiola might be feeling suitably refreshed after his sabbatical and ready for the serious challenge of rebuilding Roman Abramovich's Chelsea.

But it was Roberto Di Matteo who made Chelsea the champions of Europe for the first time, who picked them up at the start of March, when they were at their lowest ebb in terms of results and morale since Abramovich bought the club from Ken Bates in 2003, and who, with the help of his assistant, Eddie Newton, somehow freed a bunch of sulking players to rediscover their better selves. However large the win bonus and the severance cheque, it would be harsh to send him packing in his hour of unexpected triumph.

Yet although Abramovich and Di Matteo shared an embrace as the interim manager went up with the players to receive the trophy, the Russian billionaire did not amass his fortune and his power by giving way to sentimental urges. In the cold light of a Chelsea morning he may feel that one season and promotion from the third to the second tier of English football with MK Dons, followed by a spell with West Bromwich Albion that came to an unhappy conclusion halfway through the second year, do not represent a managerial curriculum vitae substantial enough to entitle its owner to be entrusted with the work that must follow Saturday night's outpouring of joy and relief.

Which would be sad, particularly since Di Matteo now has another Chelsea distinction to add to that 42-second goal in the 1997 FA Cup final – as has the admirable Newton, who also scored for the Blues at Wembley. It is always good to see former players succeeding as managers and coaches of their old clubs, although the fate of Kenny Dalglish last week emphasises that when it goes wrong, the pain can be redoubled by the intimacy of the relationship and the strength of the emotions involved.

It would be easy to conclude that, once André Villas-Boas had been given his marching papers at the beginning of March, the suddenly promoted Di Matteo and his team did no more than make the older players feel good again by restoring their sense of power in the dressing room. If that was indeed all it took, then in the short term it paid a handsome dividend. Despite finishing a disappointing sixth in the Premier League, Chelsea can go into next season with something close to the degree of pride and self-confidence they displayed while José Mourinho was in charge.

But two or three things about the way the team have been managed in recent weeks suggest that Di Matteo is good at more than merely making Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba feel central to the side once again. The first and most obvious is the application of a pragmatic attitude to tactics which may not have conformed with Abramovich's vision of the kind of football he would like to see the team playing but which ensured that, even in their reduced state, they were capable of securing big results.

Having spent several months watching the team's struggles from the vantage point of assistant manager, Di Matteo swiftly dismantled the 4‑3‑3 formation that Villas‑Boas had inherited as part of Mourinho's legacy and switched to the 4‑2‑3‑1 that has become the preferred system of most top international and club sides. He wanted to use two shielding midfield players to strengthen the defence, and he had the men with whom to do it. Even deprived of his four suspended players against Bayern, he was able to organise the rearguard with a clarity of design and purpose that enabled all the defensive players to produce memorable performances. The pairing of David Luiz and Gary Cahill in central defence looked as though it could be good for years to come, as long as Chelsea can keep David Luiz out of the clutches of Barcelona, who are said to see him as a replacement for the creaking Carles Puyol.

The second and third signs were to do with individuals rather than systems. Whereas Villas-Boas had attempted to use Fernando Torres as a replacement for Drogba, Di Matteo restored the ageing but still talismanic Ivorian to pre-eminence. That meant relegating Torres to a place among the substitutes, a state of affairs clearly not to the troubled Spaniard's liking. Somehow, nonetheless, Di Matteo managed to coax from the £50m misfit the kind of performances that even Carlo Ancelotti never came close to eliciting.

It was Torres who came on to score that marvellous game-killing second goal in the Camp Nou, having previously shown a willingness to help with the mucking-out in defence, and on Saturday night his arrival as a replacement for Salomon Kalou on the right wing in the 84th minute prefaced a display that hinted at what he may bring to his future career in the blue shirt. There were a couple of terrific dribbles down the flank in which he relieved the pressure by taking on and occupying the attention of a number of defenders, and a tremendous cross that deserved a better response from his colleagues. His offer to take a penalty was rejected by Di Matteo but his commitment was never in doubt.

Third comes the case of Ryan Bertrand, the young left‑back who had played in only seven games in the Premier League this season and had never had a sniff of Europe's top club competition before Di Matteo selected him for the final. Bertrand's contribution was not an unqualified success, and he was withdrawn after 73 minutes, but he had done the job Di Matteo required of him, filling the space on the left of midfield and inhibiting Philipp Lahm's desire to move up in support of Arjen Robben, thus allowing Ashley Cole to deal with the wily and persistent Dutchman one on one.

Di Matteo had come up with the idea while observing the players in training in the week before the match, and he may also have been reminded of the occasions on which Cole and Wayne Bridge were used in a similar configuration. The decision showed intelligence, imagination and a willingness to try something unorthodox on the very biggest of occasions. Even so, it may not be enough to sway a man whose own decisions are sometimes made according to more enigmatic criteria.