Why Aston Villa were wrong to sack Roberto Di Matteo

by Chris Knight / 03 October 2016, 11:35

Aston Villa supporter and The Sack Race contributor, Chris Knight (@Chris_Knight84), has his say on Roberto Di Matteo's sacking.

After being relegated from the Premier League in abject fashion last season, it seemed as if Aston Villa Football Club couldn't possibly sink any lower. Until now. Just ten Championship games (or 124 days in old money) into his managerial career, Roberto Di Matteo has been shown the door by a man that resembles a cartoon caricature rather than a football owner.

Villa have now gone through six 'permanent' managers and four caretakers in six years. During that time they have gone from being a regular top-six side in the Premier League to a club looking at the very real prospect of relegation to League One.

It is almost as if chopping a manager on a regular basis doesn't breed success, Who knew?

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Have A Little Patience

If anyone deserved time to turn things around then it was surely Roberto Di Matteo as he inherited arguably the worst group of players to ever grace the top tier of English football.

The Italian faced a thankless task as he attempted to clear out the deadwood that destroyed squad unity last season and on the whole he did a pretty decent job as seventeen players departed over the summer, including the hapless Joleon Lescott, Brad Guzan and Jores Okore, while players with questionable personalities (Micah Richards and Gabriel Agbonlahor) were jettisoned.

In came players with proven Championship experience as Tommy Elphick, Ross McCormack and James Chester were three of nine new additions that were always going to need time to settle and gel, but Di Matteo wasn't afford an ounce of patience.

Yes, ten points from eleven games is a disappointing return at this stage but it is far from terminal and performances on the whole had been encouraging, with only a propensity for conceding late goals holding them back. 

It has been so long since this once great football club had won on a regular basis that the nerves spread like wildfire through the terraces and out on to the pitch whenever they were on the verge of success. Players were paralysed by fear.

The Owner From Hell

Even when Villa did show some courage to fight back and earn a point against a vastly better prepared and superior Newcastle, the manager was swiftly undermined by leaks suggesting that he had two games to save his job.

It was unfair to expect the manager or the players to be able to perform under such circumstances and they duly conceded another late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley before folding meekly in a 2-0 defeat at Preston that spelled the end for Di Matteo. 

The manager deserved so much more as the full 124 days of his reign have been played out to a backdrop of constant Twittering from his owner. From barracking Ian Holloway, to commenting on player performances and even sending a message of support to the players - a message that Xia reckons Di Matteo had asked for. Unlikely.

Villa fans have inherited an owner who doesn't have a clue about football but who is willing to offer his insight on every matter of the club on social media. For some, the willingness of Xia to interact with fans has been a breath of fresh air in the otherwise closed world of professional football but in reality the Chinese businessman is a destabilising presence.

Xia had been dubbed as the saviour after Randy Lerner finally sold up but nothing has changed. Another owner, another manager, different players, the club is still one big mess.

Di Matteo has at least provided the next manager with a core of players who are capable of performing at this level. However, the Italian's successor will have to be ready to deal with an owner who won't be happy until he is managing the club himself... 


Managers Departed

Last man down

Gary Rowett
(Derby County)
22nd May


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