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Chelsea sack boss Di Matteo
9:14am Wednesday 21st November 2012 in Premier League
Roberto Di Matteo has been sacked as Chelse a manager after the club’s crushing Champions League defeat at Juventus last night.
The manager who masterminded the greatest climax to a season in the Blues' history this morning paid the price for Chelsea possibly becoming the first holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.
Last night's 3-0 loss in Turin - their heaviest ever in a group match - put them on the brink of doing just that, with Chelsea relying on a Shakhtar Donetsk side who have already qualified beating Juve to let them off the hook.
They must also win their own final Group E game against Nordsjaelland.
Pep Guardiola is still waiting in the wings, while there is even talk of Rafael Benitez or Avram Grant being parachuted in as a stopgap, in much the same way Di Matteo was last season.
Asked if he was confident he would still be in charge for the final group game and beyond, the Italian had said last night: "At the moment, I think, with the team we are all in it together.
"At the moment, I am here and I think I will be for the future. It's probably not a question you should ask me but, as far as I'm concerned, I'll keep working."
Asked if sacking him would be fair considering everything he achieved last season, he added: "I'm the wrong person to answer that question."
Di Matteo risked Abramovich's wrath last night by dropping Fernando Torres and radically overhauling his tactics - and he took full responsibility afterwards.
He said: "I'm responsible for the result. I'm responsible for the performance. It's a negative evening for us.
"If anyone has to take the blame, it's me. I selected a team I was convinced was the right team to win against Juventus, or get at least a draw, so the blame belongs to me."
He added: "I'm responsible for positive and negative results. This is what I do."
Di Matteo took more than an hour to emerge for his post-match press conference but he said that was not because he had been grilled by senior club executives.
He defended his selection decisions but was left clutching at straws when assessing Chelsea's prospects of qualifying.
He said: "Well, mathematically, it's still possible. While there's hope you still try. Who says that Juventus aren't going to lose at Shakhtar?
"We just have to make we do our job at our end, win the last group game. With 10 points, normally... usually, it's enough. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it is."
A Chelsea statement this morning said: "Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.
"The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and 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.
"The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.
"The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.
"The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager."