Chelsea have announced that they have sacked boss Roberto Di Matteo.
Yesterday I wrote that last nights game against Juventus could a defining moment for the Italian and so it proved.
His side lost 3-0 at the Juventus Stadium and their Champions League destiny is no longer in their own hands.
The club confirmed the Italians departure on their official website. A statement read: “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season,”
I felt this decision was almost inevitable. I thought Blues owner Roman Abramovich may wait until after the Manchester City game on Sunday to decide on Di Matteo’s future, but he has acted quickly after the awful defeat.
There was never a sense that Roberto Di Matteo was the first choice for the Chelsea job this summer. I don’t think anybody expected the Italian to guide his team to unlikely Champions League victory in May.
The team rode their luck along the way and won Europe’s biggest honour for the first time in their history. That achievement was enough to force Roman Abramovich to give the former-West Brom boss a chance on a permanent basis.
I think he was only ever seen as a stop-gap, until Abramovich could bring in former-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. The Russian is a big admirer of Guardiola and had always earmarked him as a future Blues boss. The Italian was always living on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea started the season off in such good form and looked like real challengers for the big trophies. The Blues still look capable of challenging at the top of the Premier League table, but are now in danger of becoming the first holders ever to go out at the group stage.
Chelsea’s slump has seen them not win in five games. However, most teams go through a bad patch during a season, even the big teams. This was possibly Chelsea’s bad spell.
I don’t think that Roberto Di Matteo was ever considered high-profile enough for the Chelsea job. If he hadn’t have won the Champions League last season he wouldn’t have got the job on a permanent basis.
When Andre Villas-Boas was sacked there were a host of big name bosses linked with the vacancy. Those same names will probably once again be linked with the vacancy.
Anyway back to Pep Guardiola. The spectre of the Spaniard has been hanging over Roberto Di Matteo’s head ever since he was appointed. The Italian would have had to have done something incredible this season for him not to be replaced by the former-Barcelona boss.
It seemed like an open secret that Pep would take the reins at Stamford Bridge next summer. He is currently enjoying a sabbatical out of the game, which is due to last a year. Will his plans now change?
The Spaniard has expressed his admiration for the Premier League in times gone by and admitted during his time at Barcelona that he would want to manage in the British top flight one day.
He has also recently revealed that he would like to live in London. When you put two and two together you come up with Chelsea. However, at the moment it doesn’t look likely that he will be the next Blues boss.
The two other bosses being linked with the job are former-Liverpool and Inter boss Rafa Benitez and former-Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp. The latter did a great job at Spurs, before being discarded by the North London outfit.
Benitez has won La Liga titles with Valencia and a Champions League with Liverpool. You do suspect that Liverpool’s momentous European victory was in spite of Benitez, not because of the Spaniard.
It remains to be seen who will be the Chelsea manager short-term. I wouldn’t be surprised to see somebody being given a contract until the end of the season, just like Di Matteo was last season.
Roberto Di Matteo is not a great manager, he’s a decent one, but I doubt that he will ever become a managerial great. In his time as West Brom he showed his naivety and was sacked.
The club have stated he will always be welcome at Chelsea. I fear that the Italian will go down as the janitor that became the CEO by accident, only for somebody to realise and fire him once he had messed up.
I believe that Roberto Di Matteo deserved more time after winning the Champions League last season. Roman Abramovich is not a patient man though and he was never going to be given much leeway.
Chelsea will now look for a replacement for the Italian. I can’t help thinking that all this will end up with Pep Guardiola conveniently showing up next summer with promises of big money signings and a restructuring of the club. We shall see.
Who will be the next Chelsea boss?