DI MATTEO SACKED!
After weeks of speculation, Aston Villa’s board finally cut ties with Chelsea legend Roberto Di Matteo on October 3rd. Di Matteo’s firing came two days after a 2-0 loss away at Preston North End. The week prior, Villa only managed a 1-1 draw at Barnsley.
Di Matteo’s Villa reign, which lasted just 123 days, was rife with disappointing results. They managed just a single win in 11 Championship games, though they only lost three times. Currently, Villa sit 19th in the table, on just 10 points.
Enigmatic Villa chairman Dr. Tony Xia tweeted that the decision to part ways with Di Matteo was a “difficult” one. “All need [to] learn [and] not repeat mistakes again [and] again,” continued the rookie football club owner.
Di Matteo might look to blame some of the team’s struggles on Xia and the Villa board, who have appeared undermining at best, and interfering at worst. However, Di Matteo can have no complaints when it comes to board support in the transfer market. RDM brought 9 new players to Villa, at a combined cost of £55.5million.
Unfortunately for Di Matteo, he did not have the support of the club’s fans to fall back on and save him from the axe, either. After Aston Villa’s lackluster losing performance at Preston, the traveling Villa fans actually chanted for his firing.
This chapter in Di Matteo’s coaching story is pretty damaging, and it seems unlikely that he’ll get a similar opportunity anytime soon - especially in England. The former blues midfielder took a year-long hiatus from management after a disappointing spell at FC Schalke 04, I expect to see him take a similarly long break before returning to the dugout, with a much smaller club (perhaps in his native Switzerland or Italy).
Dan Petrescu got the boot, too! He was fired by Russian Division 1 club Kuban Krasnodar on October 4th. Like Di Matteo’s Villa, Kuban were coming off a relegation season and were expected to bounce right back. However, also like Di Matteo’s Villa Kuban have struggled mightily and Petrescu’s team had barely been above the relegation zone all season. Petrescu’s last game was a win, at home to Yenisey, but this was only his third in 15 games. Petrescu took the Kuban job just weeks after being fired by Chinese big-spenders Jiangsu Suning. Even though his most recent spell in Russia wasn’t very successful, don’t be surprised to see Petrescu hired again in the coming months. Our former right back has been hired 11 times in the last 13 years and has never been out of work long.
Calls for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to lose his job at QPR have died down a little, but he probably preferred those headlines to the ones which started popping up last week. Hasselbaink was one of the handful of managers who were caught up in the same undercover ‘stings’ that brought down England manager Sam Allardyce. The Daily Telegraph captured footage of Hasslebaink allegedly asking for £55k to speak to a fictitious Singapore-based firm interested in signing players, who Hasselbaink may then sign (using QPR’s money, possibly involving a kickback payment to Hasselbaink). None of JFH’s comments were explosive enough to cost him his job, but it’s not a good look for the up-and-coming manager. QPR don’t seem too bothered by the revelations, for now.
QPR’s last game was on October 1st, which they won 2-1 against Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham - at Craven Cottage. The win took the Hoops up to 13th in the league. The Cottagers sit one place below, in 14th.
In Spain, Gus Poyet has had a quiet two weeks. On September 30th they lost away to Real Sociedad, 1-0. That loss dropped them to 15th in La Liga. Next up, they take on Real Madrid at home.
In Scotland, David Hopkin continues to be the feel-good story of the season. On October 7th his Livingston United advanced past Crusaders into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. In League One, on October 1st, Livi beat Peterhead 2-1 away. Hopkin’s men are currently 2nd in the league, a point off of leaders Brechin.
Kevin Wilson and Nuneaton had a mixed two weeks, beating Worcester 3-2 away on September 24th and then losing 1-0 at home to Curzon on October 8th. Right now they’re 15th in the Vanarama Conference League North.
Below them, in the Southern League; Kings Langley, managed by Ritchie Hanlon and Paul Hughes, are up to 8th in the league after a pair of big wins. On October 8th they thrashed Cinderford 4-0 away and on the 1st they beat St. Ives 2-1 at home. On September 27th, they were held 1-1 by Kings Lynn.
Even lower down the ladder Mickey Hazard and Hadley are struggling to find their way in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division. They’re stuck in 17th place after 0-0 draws to both Holmer Green and London Colney. On October 5th they also saw their FA Cup dream go out the window, after they were thumped 4-1 at home by Eastbourne Borough in a replay game (the first ended 0-0).
In World Cup qualifying Dider Deschamps and his French side survived an early scare to beat Bulgaria 4-1 at home on October 9th. The win puts them second in Group A, behind the Netherlands on goal difference.
In Group I, Andriy Shevchenko and Ukraine sit 3rd - two points behind Croatia and Iceland. On October 9th, they beat Kosovo 3-0 at home, and drew with Turkey away on the 6th.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
I won’t be writing about Roberto Di Matteo and Dan Petrescu for a while, so let’s watch them score a couple of classic Chelsea goals, courtesy of Classic Football TV. In this game they lined up with 5 other Chelsea players who would become managers - can you name them?