Chelsea face struggle to qualify for knockout stages of Champions League
The club thanked Di Matteo for his "huge contribution"
Chelsea say they will soon make an announcement about a new manager
The club are now looking for ninth different manager under owner Roman Abramovich
Just six months after leading Chelsea to European Champions League and English FA Cup glory Roberto di Matteo has been sacked by the English Premier League club.
He was sacked just hours after Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat to Juventus left Chelsea on the brink of becoming the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League.
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who took over the club in 2003, is now looking for his ninth manager, with all the indications a replacement has already been found.
“The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager,” said a statement on the Chelsea website.
Third in the English Premier League despite a series of injuries to key players, Chelsea is on a run of just one win in five league matches and face league leaders Manchester City on Sunday, with the league champions four points ahead of the London side.
Explaining the Italian’s dismissal, Chelsea thanked Di Matteo for his”huge contribution” but also said the team’s results had “not been good enough”.
“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,” added the Chelsea statement.
In order to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, Chelsea must beat Danish side Nordsjaelland in the final round of group matches and hope Ukrainian group leaders Shakhtar Donetsk defeat Juventus.
Former Chelsea midfielder Di Matteo took over first team duties following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in March 2011.
The former West Bromwich Albion manager guided Chelsea to English FA Cup success, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final, before leading the west London club to its first Champions League triumph in May.
The penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena helped convince Abramovich that Di Matteo deserved the job on a full-time basis and the Italian was handed a two-year contract in June 2012.
Eight full-time managers have worked under Abramovich since he took control of Chelsea in 2003.
Tuesday’s defeat came off the back of Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Di Matteo’s former club West Brom.
Despite attacking players such as Brazilian playmaker Oscar and Belgian forward Eden Hazard impressing since arriving during the last preseason, Chelsea has struggled defensively.
Key has been the recent absence of captain John Terry who had to serve a four-match ban for racially abusing an opponent before picking up a knee injury in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool earlier this month.
With Terry in and out of the team, Chelsea has conceded 20 goals in its last 10 matches in all competitions.
Much of Di Matteo’s tenure was overshadowed by the racism scandal which engulfed Terry and the club.
Former England captain Terry was cleared by a London magistrate’s court of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand but was then found guilty by an English FA tribunal.
Di Matteo, whose team began the season with a 4-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup, has also failed to bring the best form out of Fernando Torres – the striker who Abramovich splashed out $80 million to recruit from Liverpool.
Spain international Torres, who won the golden boot at this year’s Euro 2012 tournament, has scored just four goals this season and looks a shadow of the player who shone during four seasons at Anfield.
Media reports are already linking Torres’ former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez with the job. The Spaniard has been out of work since being sacked by Inter Milan in January 2011.
Former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola is also being linked with the Stamford Bridge vacancy. Guardiola led Barca to 14 titles in four years before stepping down from the Nou Camp hotseat at the end of last season. The former Barca captain is currently on sabbatical in the United States.