London (AFP) – Roberto di Matteo has reached the heady heights of winning the Champions League as a manager but on Sunday he hopes for something rather more mundane: winning his first game in charge of Aston Villa.
The 46-year-old Swiss born former Italian international — who won the 2012 Champions League when in charge of Chelsea — takes Chinese-owned Villa to Sheffield Wednesday in the second tier Championship on Sunday.
Both sides have an immediate point to prove to get over disappointments at the end of last term with Villa finishing bottom of the Premier League and being relegated and the ‘Owls’ seeing their hopes of sharing in the lucrative riches of the Premier League dashed by losing in the play-off final at Wembley to Hull.
Di Matteo, who is one of several high profile managers in the Championship, said it is important for his side — seven times English champions and winners of the old European Cup in 1982 — to get off to a good start.
It was something odds-on favourites to win the Championship Newcastle — managed by another Champions League winning manager in Rafael Benitez — patently failed to do on Friday losing 1-0 to Fulham.
“They are (a) real tough test. But we want the points. There are 45 games after this one but we want to get off to a good start,” Di Matteo told the Villa website.
“It’s a tough start away at Sheffield Wednesday but we’re looking forward to it.
“Sheffield Wednesday are a good team and they have made some good additions.”
Di Matteo, who was sacked by Chelsea the season after landing the Champions League, should give a start to Scottish international striker Ross McCormack, for whom this week he spent £12 million ($16 million, 14.3 million euros) of new Chinese owner Tony Xia’s money to wrest him away from Fulham.