ROBERTO DI MATTEO
Roberto Di Matteo was handed the role of interim first-team coach following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas in March 2012, having worked alongside the Portuguese as an assistant, and went on to lead the Blues to Champions League glory for the first time in our history.
The Italian, who already enjoyed a fantastic relationship with supporters due to his time as a player at Stamford Bridge in the late 1990s, took charge for the first time away at Birmingham City in a fourth round FA Cup replay. He altered the formation slightly from the 4-3-3 mostly played by Villas-Boas to 4-2-3-1, and it was a positive start to his reign as goals from Juan Mata and Raul Meireles helped us to a 2-0 victory.
A week later, we faced Napoli in the first knockout stage of the Champions League trailing 3-1 from the initial game in Italy when Villas-Boas had still been at the helm.
With our hopes of progressing looking ominous, the Blues produced a stunning display to go through courtesy of a 4-1 win after extra-time, with goals from Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic.
Players spoke highly of the way the Italian had steadied the ship and communicated with them, and the following month saw on-pitch matters improve further as we booked our place in the FA Cup final with a memorable 5-1 win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, while three days later a solitary Drogba strike saw us beat Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of our Champions League semi-final.
The return in Spain will be remembered by supporters for many years to come as the Blues defied the odds to overcome Pep Guardiola's side. Trailing 2-0 on the night, reduced to 10 men after John Terry had been sent off and with Gary Cahill going off injured, we were left with a mountain to climb.
However, Ramires scored a delightful chip to give us hope just before the break, and when Lionel Messi missed a penalty with the clock ticking down the tie began to swing in our favour. A 2-1 defeat would have seen us go through courtesy of the away goals rule, but Fernando Torres made certain by striking in the dying minutes to seal our place in the final.
Di Matteo won his first trophy as Blues boss when goals from Ramires and Drogba helped us to a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup final, and while our league form stuttered slightly due to a congested fixture list, our focus was centred around the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in their home stadium.
Di Matteo's team selection for the game wasn't helped by the absence of Terry, Ramires, Ivanovic and Meireles, who were all suspended, while both David Luiz and Gary Cahill were only passed fit in the week leading up to the game. He sprung a surprise by naming young left-back Ryan Bertrand in midfield, in a wide position on the flank ahead of Ashley Cole.
The Blues were unsurprisingly forced to defend for large parts of the game, and when Bayern took the lead eight minutes from time the dream appeared to be slipping away.
In the 87th minute, however, Drogba rose highest to meet a Mata corner and head home, forcing the game into extra-time.
The ensuing 30 minutes saw Petr Cech save an Arjen Robben penalty, and the Blues goalkeeper reproduced more heroics in the shoot-out to deny Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger, leaving Drogba to win the trophy for Di Matteo's side, capping the most magical night in the club's history.
With the fans desperate for him to be handed the reins on a permanent basis, Di Matteo was offered the role during the subsequent pre-season, and he quickly laid out his intentions for the 2012/13 campaign by signing creative attackers in the form of Eden Hazard and Oscar.
Looking to reduce the average age of the squad, he also added both Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses late in the summer transfer window, and while we suffered defeat in both the European Super Cup and the FA Community Shield, our early league form was impressive.
Wins against Wigan Athletic, Reading and Newcastle in our opening three games got us off to the perfect start, and we were earning plenty of plaudits for our free-flowing football as Di Matteo looked to implement a new, expansive style of play.
Away victories at both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur maintained our momentum, before a 2-1 Champions League defeat in Shakhtar Donetsk set the alarm bells ringing for the first time.
We suffered our first league defeat of the season four days later when Manchester United won 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in a game littered with controversy, while the following three games - against Swansea, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion - yielded only two points from a possible nine.
With a pivotal Champions League clash in Juventus looming, the pressure was mounting on Di Matteo, and his cause wasn't helped when we were beaten 3-0 in Turin, leaving our hopes of qualification for the knockout stages in jeopardy.
Di Matteo was relieved of his duties when he returned to London after the match, but will always hold a special place in the hearts of Chelsea supporters given his achievements at the club, both as a player and manager.