Roberto Di Matteo sacking by Chelsea justified - Paul Elliott

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport
Di Matteo sacking understandable - Elliott

Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott has backed the decision to sack Roberto Di Matteo as manager and defended Roman Abramovich's hire-and-fire approach.

Di Matteo left Chelsea after only eight months in charge, becoming the seventh manager to be fired since Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

"Results and performances haven't been to the level of a club of this magnitude," Elliott told BBC Sport.

"Abramovich has always been good for Chelsea and will continue to be."

After taking over from Andre Villas-Boas as interim manager in March, Di Matteo steered Chelsea to the FA Cup and Champions League last season and was rewarded with a two-year contract in June.

The club made an impressive start to this campaign but have won just two of their last eight games in all competitions.

Frank Sinclair upset by Roberto Di Matteo dismissal

The Italian was dismissed the morning after a 3-0 Champions League defeat at Juventus that leaves them on the brink of elimination from the tournament.

"I think the performance against Juve and the outcome was really the final straw," said Elliott, who was forced to retire through a knee injury in 1994, but was still at the club when Di Matteo signed as a player in 1996.

"Roberto came in under very difficult circumstances and what he did wonderfully well was stabilise the ship, get the dressing room motivated, got the players playing for him and obviously the success was richly deserved.

"However, Roberto like every other manager, is in the results business. You can get away with bad results if the team is playing well but the fact is that he wasn't getting results and the team wasn't playing well."

Di Matteo's departure sees an eighth manager depart Chelsea since Russian billionaire Abramovich took over.

The club have enjoyed great success in that period, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the Champions League.

"If you look at the sackings and offset it against the success, they are justified," said Elliott.

"The most important thing is that decisions are made in the best interests of the club and I think the owner and the board are doing that. The results prove they have been the right decisions."

Chelsea have appointed former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as an interim manager and are reported to be targeting former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola as a permanent successor to Di Matteo.

Elliott believes Guardiola, a two-time Champions League winner who is currently on a sabbatical from football, would be the man to deliver long-term success to the club.

"He is a very capable man who has achieved wonderful success with Barcelona," said Elliott. "He will add a lot of value to the club, not just to the first team but to the whole structure of the club from the academy right the way to the elite game.

"He will improve the playing staff and attract a lot of quality that will improve the club at all levels of the game."

Former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair disagreed with his ex-teammate Elliott's views, arguing that Abramovich's policy is destabilising the club.

"The main damage is to the stability of the players and the football club as a whole," he told BBC Sport. "New managers always want new players and the stability isn't there.

"This was the first blip Robbie has had at the club. He came in when the club was in turmoil under Andre Villas-Boas. There were problems in the dressing room and Robbie sorted all that out and was able to win trophies as well. You would have thought he would have been given a lot longer."

Andre Villas-Boas, who lasted nine months as manager at Stamford Bridge before being sacked in March and replaced by Di Matteo, labelled the sacking as "just another day at the office" at Chelsea.

"It's their decision, it's what they think will take them forward," Tottenham manager Villas-Boas said.

Jose Mourinho, who managed Chelsea from June 2004 to September 2007, said: "That's football. I'm never happy when a manager's sacked. It can happen to anybody - it's a feeling nobody likes to have.

"Everybody knows I like Chelsea - I always support any Chelsea manager."

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said Chelsea have set an unwelcome record by sacking Di Matteo just six months after winning the Champions League.

"I know Roberto well and he is a good man so this is sad news," Taylor said. "It's also quite incredible that he can be sacked so soon after winning the Champions League - and the FA Cup for good measure.

"It must be a record, and not a good one. It just shows that patience now seems a rare commodity at some clubs and that is a shame because the record of other successful clubs shows that stability can breed success. I am sure that it will not be long before another club recognises Roberto's qualities, and that he will soon be back in football."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers described the sacking of Di Matteo as "incredible" after his success in the Champions League and FA Cup last season.

"It's a disappointing day if you're a manager because it really shows the game that we are in now," said Rodgers. "We're talking literally four weeks ago this was a team that was going to win everything.

"Everyone was enthusing about the quality of their game - the quality of the players that were brought in and only a few points off the top, and this is a guy who won the Champions League.

"I feel for Robby - he went in there and he's done a brilliant job. It's incredible really that you can win the Champions League and win a domestic cup competition and yet find yourself being out of a job.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, speaking on a visit to the new national football centre at St George's Park, was asked about Di Matteo's dismissal.

"No success is not in a contract, but this is football," he said. "You have to live with it."

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