Aston Villa were really clutching at straws when they dropped down in the Championship and recruited Roberto Di Matteo, a man whose only achievement was fluking the Champions League. Yes, you heard – ‘only’.
Former manager Remi Garde had departed the club as one of the worst managers in modern footballing history and left behind him a stink that very few in the managerial sphere could clear up. In fact, to this day we could not think of a single candidate in the world that could have done a job. But that is besides the point. Roberto Di Matteo was certainly not the man.
In fact, it seems a little naïve of Villa’s new owner Tony Xia to assume that the Italian could simply sprinkle some of his former fortune on the Lions and raise them from the dead.
“It is really important to gain promotion as soon as we can, ideally in the first season,” Xia said at the time (as per The Guardian).
“I would like to think a club of this size could be back in the European field within five years and going for the Champions League in 10. We definitely want to win the European Cup.”
Blimey. How wrong could one man be? Tony Xia wrong, that is how much.
Anyone involved with the club or football in general these past few years may have noticed Aston Villa’s absence from both the Premier League and Europe. Some – the more gullible amongst us – may have even been surprised.
Well, that is because there was literally no chance Di Matteo was going to be able to inject the strategic genius necessary to propel them into one of the greatest footballing comebacks of all time. The Italian’s inexperience managing in the second tier was there for all to see. The “fancy” football he attempted to introduce to a competition known for a certain brand of football was, shall we say, a little out of place. Sort of like bringing a fancy sword to a gunfight
Di Matteo managed just 12 games in charge with a points-per-game ratio of 0.83 before being sacked (stats via Transfermarkt). Woeful.