Di Matteo expected Chelsea axe

Roberto Di Matteo thought he was being sacked, not promoted, before he was handed the reins at Chelsea last season.

Last Updated: 17/11/12 at 07:57 Post Comment

Di Matteo: Thought he was being sacked

Di Matteo: Thought he was being sacked

Roberto Di Matteo has admitted he thought he was being sacked, not promoted, before he was handed the reins at Chelsea last season.

Di Matteo revealed for the first time his darkest fears after the Blues' fateful Premier League defeat at West Brom on March 3, which led to Andre Villas-Boas's demise as manager less than 24 hours later.

Villas-Boas' then-assistant was immediately appointed caretaker following a training-ground meeting with owner Roman Abramovich, director Eugene Tenenbaum and chief executive Ron Gourlay.

But that was far from the outcome Di Matteo was bracing himself for when he was summoned by his bosses.

Asked if he had been expecting the boot, he said: "I did, yeah, quite frankly. It was a very emotional day, that day, for us."

Di Matteo's revelation came as he marked 257 days in charge, the exact number of days Villas-Boas had spent in the hotseat, and the day before Chelsea's first trip to The Hawthorns since last season's defeat - Di Matteo's first return there as a manager since West Brom sacked him just over a year earlier.

Having masterminded the greatest climax to a season in Chelsea's history, a loss would not spell the end of Di Matteo's time in charge at Stamford Bridge.

But a fourth straight league game without a win would certainly see the vultures begin to circle at a time of year when Chelsea traditionally struggle.

Pointing out they had won matches in both the Champions League and Capital One Cup during the period they had dropped from first to third place, Di Matteo said: "You need to put things into perspective.

"We're in good shape, the players are in good spirit. We need to keep going on and try to get the win.

"We've shown our character many, many times. It's not just a test of character.

"When we play well and manage to do so in a game, we can win games."

It is easy to imagine Di Matteo having given his bosses at West Brom the same assurances before he was unceremoniously sacked last year.

The Italian lost his job after a lengthy run of bad results, although he had just led them back into the Premier League at the first attempt and they were not even in the relegation zone.

However, replacement Roy Hodgson did turn their campaign around - ultimately earning him the England job - while Di Matteo's subsequent adventures are now the stuff of legend.

Astonishing Champions League and FA Cup triumphs last season led to him being appointed Chelsea manager full time and gave him licence to be philosophical about his Hawthorns demise.

Insisting his sacking did not dent that self-belief, he said: "I learned a lot of things - which people to trust, who not to trust.

"I'm certainly a better coach and manager now from the experience I had in the past, and the experience I had here as an assistant and now a manager working with these players."

Di Matteo insisted he bore no grudges over his controversial dismissal in February 2011, which ended up working out spectacularly well for both parties.

Former Chelsea team-mate and assistant manager Steve Clarke has led the Baggies to fifth in the table this season and Di Matteo said: "I'm pleased for him."

Asked if he could have done the same, he replied: "God knows."

But he added: "They certainly have a stronger team. They have made some good signings, and are more established now as a Premier League club."

There are still plenty of players there from the Di Matteo era and after reeling off a list of names, the Italian said: "I'm not taking credit for them, but there's still a good number from when I was there."

West Brom's home record is second only to Manchester City's and they may fancy their chances against a Chelsea side who saw several of their players forced to travel long distances to play for their countries in midweek.

Di Matteo hit out at November's midweek friendlies, saying: "From a club point of view, they don't make any sense.

"Most managers won't be too happy having three-quarters of their team jetting around the world for a friendly."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

t's wrong to be making a joke out of Bender's name at the expense of gay people. It's the kind of childish, uncivilised thing that Football365 would deride and ridicule if it was another media outlet saying. Why is there a need for jokes like this? Does it make your writers feel like men? F365 might suggest that I 'lighten up', but it is genuinely traumatic for people who have been oppressed all their lives to be the butt of jokes, and to be told...

anamsport
The Beeriod Gossip

Y

ou can't blame De Gea for wanting to leave, he has enough to do in front of goal as it is as well as taking on the role of Man Utd's version of Derek Acorah in trying to contact and organise a defence that isn't there.

rodger's gusset
Van Gaal downbeat on De Gea

I

f you want to take six points off Arsenal, then that's a great strike force. Can't imagine either of them showing much for the rest of the season though...

foot in mouth
Adebayor & Berbatov: You Have To Admire The Balls

Footer 365

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0: Gunners win Community Shield

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored as Arsenal won the Community Shield with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, with Arsene Wenger finally beating Jose Mourinho.

Angel Di Maria poised for medical ahead of move to PSG

Manchester United's Angel Di Maria is expected to undergo a medical in the next 24 hours ahead of a move to PSG.

Mourinho plans to manage into his 70s

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho believes he is a better manager than he was 10 years ago - and he wants to continue until he's in his 70s.

Mail Box

Neville Has It Wrong On Chelsea...

One Mailboxer says that the Neviller has it slightly wrong on Chelsea. Plus thoughts on sexy Saints, pre-season reviews, Connor Wickham and televised analysis...

De Gea Disrespectful? Remember RVP...

We got dozens of mails from people pointing and laughing at Brian D for suggesting David de Gea has acted disrespectfully; we printed some. And there's more...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company