Roberto Di Matteo was axed as Chelsea boss by Roman Abramovich last week…straight after his plane landed following the 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin on last week.
The 42-year-old was sacked by the billionaire Russian owner’s henchmen at the club’s training ground just 187 days after leading the Blues to Champions League glory.
The ruthless dismissal was slammed by fans and players. Last night, ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez took over at Chelsea.
Di Matteo, who earned Chelsea $75million by winning the Champions League, was already a dead man walking as he landed back in England and posed with fans.
As the manager was driven back to Chelsea’s base and merciless Abramovich was already on the phone to his henchmen…club chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay…telling them the Italian had to go straight away.
Still unaware of his fate but sensing the mood of gloom, the manager shook hands with every one of his players in the Chelsea car park.
He was then hauled into a crisis meeting and sacked at 4am.
Ex-Liverpool gaffer Rafa Benitez was appointed Chelsea boss until the end of the season…shocked fans and players said Di Matteo’s axing was one of the most brutal in Premier League history.
His sacking after just 263 days in charge means Chelsea are now on their 9th manager since Abramovich, 46, took over the club in 2003.
Di Matteo was axed despite fulfilling Abramovich’s dream last May by becoming the first Chelsea boss to win the Champions League.
Sources at the club insisted his sacking was not a knee-jerk reaction to the defeat by Juve which leaves the team on the brink of becoming the first European champions to fail to qualify from the group stages.
They said his departure had been on the cards for a while after a string of poor results, including a 2-1 defeat by West Brom on Saturday.
And even before he was sacked, there were reports that Chelsea had had secret discussions with Benitez and ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola over the manager’s job.
The 4am meeting at which Di Matteo was axed lasted less than half an hour once it was made clear Abramovich’s decision was final and there would be no going back.
Buck and Gourlay then headed for an emergency meeting at Stamford Bridge before releasing an official club statement at 9am confirming Di Matteo’s departure.
The manager will continue to receive his $100,000-a-week wages until he finds another job.
Many Chelsea fans are very angry over the axing of Di Matteo and his replacement by Benitez.
by Terence Johns