London (AFP) – Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by Aston Villa on Monday after just 12 matches in charge of the troubled Championship club.
Di Matteo was hired by Villa’s new Chinese owner Tony Xia in June and the former Chelsea boss was expected to lead his side into the Premier League.
Villa are playing in the second tier for the first time since 1988 following last season’s relegation, but they have struggled to show any improvement under Di Matteo despite splashing out on several expensive new signings.
Saturday’s woeful 2-0 defeat at Preston, which ended with Villa booed off by their furious fans, proved the final straw and 48 hours later the Italian’s 124-day reign was over.
“Aston Villa Football Club has today parted company with manager Roberto Di Matteo,” a statement read.
“The club decided to act following a run of disappointing results which has left the team occupying 19th position in the Championship.
“The club would like to place on record its appreciation to Roberto for all his efforts in helping rebuild the squad and wish him well for the future.”
Di Matteo won only one of his 11 Championship fixtures, while also crashing out of the League Cup against fourth tier Luton.
The 46-year-old leaves with Villa languishing just two points above the relegation zone in 19th place after a nine-match winless run.
He made nine signings for a net spend of £34 million ($43 million, 38 million euros), including Ross McCormack and Jonathan Kodjia, but the highly-priced strikers have scored just three goals between them.
Di Matteo’s reign is the shortest of any permanent Villa boss in the club’s history and they are now looking for their fifth full-time manager since February 2014.
“A difficult decision 4 the board. But rather sooner than later we’d make the decision. All need learn¬ repeat mistakes again&again,” Xia wrote on Twitter after the announcement.
Steve Clarke will take over as Villa’s caretaker manager while the club, already 15 points behind leaders Huddersfield, begin their search for a replacement during the international break.
Former Hull boss Steve Bruce, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy and Brentford chief Dean Smith are among the early contenders to succeed Di Matteo.
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