London (AFP) – A late Fernando Forestieri goal condemned Roberto di Matteo’s Aston Villa to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship opener on Sunday.
The defeat — which was watched from the directors box by Villa’s Chinese owner Tony Xia — provided an early warning to Champions League winning manager Di Matteo that returning Villa to the top tier immediately is not going to be easy.
Di Matteo’s fellow Champions League winning manager Rafael Benitez had also experienced defeat with his title favourites Newcastle losing to Fulham on Friday, a result the Spaniard said was a ‘wake-up call’ for his players.
There had been no such problems for Norwich, the third side relegated from the Premier League last season, as they turned on a blockbuster of a performance in demolishing Blacburn Rovers 4-1 away on Saturday.
Sunday’s other game saw fallen English giants Leeds United fail to give new manager Garry Monk the start he would have wished for as they were trounced 3-0 by QPR, managed by former Leeds star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.