One of the names on the shortlist to be the next Blues manager and one I’d personally like to see is ex-Chelsea player and West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo. I thought that he was harshly treated at West Brom as he had made a good start in the Premier League but the pressure of possible relegation led to the Baggies board going for the safe option and bringing in Roy Hodgson. The attacking intent and football played during his time at The Hawthorns was far superior to anything served up at St Andrews. Young managers (He’s just turned 41) need to be given time and a full Championship season would allow him to develop and improve on the promise he has shown so far.
Di Matteo first came to our attention when he joined Chelsea from Lazio in the late nineties. He was part of the Italian influx that also included Gianfranco Zola and formed a key part of a stylish Chelsea team. He won the FA Cup with them in 2000 scoring the first goal in what was then a record 42 seconds. He went on to make 119 appearances for them until he was forced to retire after suffering a triple leg break in a UEFA cup tie. He was only 31. He was capped 34 times for Italy and played in the 1998 World Cup.
After a long break from football he returned to England to become manager of MK Dons in 2008. He did well there winning around 50% of his games. This success brought him to the attention of West Brom who he joined the following year and led them to 2nd place in the Championship and automatic qualification to the Premier League. His good start to the season included a 3-1 win over us and a 3-2 win at Arsenal. He was named manager of the month for September. Unfortunately for Roberto performances started to falter and a run of one win in ten through November to January led to his sacking at the start of February.
I’d like us to give a younger manager a go rather than go back to the old safe choices such as Billy Davies or Alan Curbishley and Roberto Di Matteo fits the bill. His experience in Italy allows him to bring a different view but he still has plenty of experience in the English game. I also think he would be somebody that people would want to play for so he could attract decent new signings to the club. Maybe he could use his Italian connections to bring in a few from overseas. As he still lives in Leamington Spa he wouldn’t have to move house either.
So for your consideration I give you Roberto Di Matteo.
If you haven’t already read it you can read Kev’s case for Chris Hughton here