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

Latest Articles

Transfer news: Cardiff send Ravel Morrison back to West Ham on compassionate leave

Post comment

Ravel Morrison has returned to parent club West Ham from Cardiff City on compassionate leave.

Transfer news: Brighton boss Sami Hyypia weighing up move for France international Alou Diarra

1 comments

Brighton boss Sami Hyypia is weighing up a move for former France captain Alou Diarra.

All Articles

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


Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Footer 365

Capital One Cup: Tottenham thump Newcastle 4-0 to reach the semi-finals

Tottenham thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 at White Hart Lane to reach the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

Premier League: Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to be treated by Boston Red Sox staff

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge is set to spend Christmas in Boston as he continues to receive treatment on a thigh injury.

Jim Boyce: Publish Michael Garcia report to limit damage to FIFA

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce believes that Michael Garcia’s resignation is ‘damaging’ to world football’s governing body.

Mail Box

Pulis To Liverpool Might Just Work

One Mailboxer believes that Tony Pulis managing Liverpool isn't as silly as you might think. Plus Bournemouth aren't that romantic and we're all guilty of ignoring Everton...

It's Not As Simple As Losing Luis Suarez...

That's the view of Liverpool fans in the mailbox as the Reds continue to struggle without their talisman. Suarez isn't doing particularly well at Barca either, it should be said...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property