London, Nov 21: English football club Chelsea sacked their coach Roberto Di Matteo Wednesday, six months after di Matteo guided the club to a Champions League title.
Di Matteo, who was hired on a permanent basis in June, was dismissed a day after a 0−3 loss to Juventus in Turin which left Chelsea on the brink of becoming the first defending champion to be eliminated from the group stage.
Chelsea is also struggling in the English Premier League, having picked up just two points from its last four games to fall to third place.
“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,” Chelsea said in a statement, reported by the British media.
For the moment there is no replacement for the Italian di Matteo but according to media reports former Liverpool and Inter Milan coach Rafa Benitez has been heavily linked with the job. Pep Guardiola, currently on a break from coaching after leaving Barcelona at the end of last season, will also be a contender.
Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who is looking for a ninth manager since taking over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, is known to be a long−term admirer of Guardiola.
“The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager,” the statement said.
Di Matteo took over from the fired Andre Villas−Boas in March initially on a temporary basis. The Italian led the team first to the FA Cup title and then the Champions League beating Barcelona in the semifinals and then Bayern Munich in the final.
Since taking over the club in 2003, Abramovich has sacked eight coaches including Claudio Ranieri (Sep 2000 to May 2004), Jose Mourinho (Jun 2004 to Sep 2007), Avram Grant (Sep 2007 to May 2008), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Jul 2008 to Feb 2009), Guus Hiddink (Feb 2009 to May 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (Jun 2009 to May 2011), Andre Villas−Boas (Jun 2011 to Mar 2012), Roberto Di Matteo (Mar 2012 to Nov 2012).