English Premiership

Gullit feels sorry for Di Matteo

2012-11-21 16:26
Ruud Gullit (AFP)

London - Former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit was among those who expressed their sadness at the European champions' decision to sack Roberto di Matteo as their boss on Wednesday.

Despite overseeing Chelsea's inaugural Champions League triumph - when they became the first London club to win the European Cup - in a penalty shoot-out over Bayern Munich last season and also bringing the FA Cup to Stamford Bridge, Di Matteo was sacked on Wednesday.

Only appointed on a permanent basis in June, Di Matteo was dismissed fewer than 24 hours after Tuesday's 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin left Chelsea poised to become the first Champions League winners to be knocked out in the group phase the following season.

Di Matteo, 42, is the seventh coach to have been sacked by owner Roman Abramovich since the Russian billionaire bought the club in 2003.

"If you win something at Chelsea you get sacked," Gullit, Chelsea manager from 1996 to 1998 when Italy midfielder Di Matteo was still a player with the club, told Sky Sports.

"I'm very sad for Robbie," the Dutch great added. "I already had a very good feeling that when Robbie won the Champions League that maybe they (the Chelsea board) already had somebody else in the frame to take over.

"I don't think they took any notice of the fact that Robbie could win it. That was the reason I believe that they took so long to sign Robbie because they were looking for other people.

And Gullit said he felt it was possible former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, once sacked by Abramovich, could yet return to Stamford Bridge, despite currently being in charge of Spanish giants Real Madrid.

"I always had the feeling that Mourinho was in the frame all the time - for the simple reason that he signed just after Chelsea won the Champions League.

"He signed his contract with Real Madrid and for me that is no coincidence."

Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand accused Chelsea of "madness" in sacking Di Matteo, and contrasted the situation with that at his own club, where Alex Ferguson has been the manager for 26 years.

"Wow, Chelsea have sacked their manager!!," Ferdinand told Twitter.

"I'm a bit late I know but its a madness.

"The stability at our club is something our manager rarely gets praise for...don't under estimate that. LambChopped."

Alan Pardew, manager of Chelsea's English Premier League rivals Newcastle, was equally stunned by Di Matteo's departure.

"I'm astonished, really," said Pardew, who in September was given a new eight-year contract by Newcastle - a remarkably lengthy deal by current standards in English football.

"It just goes to show you how precarious we are as Premier League managers, and you can't take anything for granted.

"He (Di Matteo) should walk straight into another job - probably at someone else's misfortune, unfortunately."

Despite everything, third-placed Chelsea are still only four points adrift of Premier League leaders and reigning champions Manchester City - their next opponents, at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

And beyond the world of soccer, Abramovich's 'hire and fire' approach was criticised by Chris Roebuck, a visiting professor and "leadership expert" at the Cass Business School in London.

"The sacking of Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo demonstrates, not decisive leadership, but knee jerk authoritarianism," Roebuck said.

"This unplanned departure now leaves the club rudderless at a critical time and presents a significant challenge in finding a new successor.

"Who would accept such a role with the chance of being sacked in the middle of the night? This event just goes to confirm the significant dangers of command and control leadership."

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