After Chelsea and Schalke mistreatment, Roberto Di Matteo deserves better

In a week were the merits of Real Madrid sacking Carlo Ancelotti have been questioned, another former Chelsea manager has found himself looking for a new job.

Roberto Di Matteo has left Schalke by mutual consent, with a disagreement between the former Chelsea coach and the club’s directors over the best course of action to get the Gelsenkirchen outfit back amongst Germany’s elite.

For the 45-year-old, what promised to be such an exciting managerial journey has turned decidedly sour, with the retired midfielder having a couple of years to forget on the touchlines.

The lack of patience in boardrooms these days has reached fever pitch, with managers given little or no time to impose themselves on clubs and trigger-happy chairman the driving force behind the managerial merry-go-round.

With everyone expecting a miracle, Di Matteo’s case proves that even overachievement does not guarantee longevity at a leading team.

After starting out his managerial tenure at MK Dons and leading West Brom to promotion from the Championship, the Swiss-born tactician made the decision to move into a number two role at Chelsea, rather than maintaining his track record as a manager.

When André Villas-Boas was given his marching orders at Stamford Bridge, Di Matteo stepped into the breach on a caretaker basis but was not expected to deliver much other than stopping the rot that the Portuguese had overseen before him.

Despite this, the Chelsea playing contingent rallied around the former Blues midfielder and despite injuries and adversity did the unthinkable by winning the Champions League.

Roberto Di MatteoBeating Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the way, Di Matteo and his band of unlikely heroes delivered Roman Abramovich his holy grail, the Champions League, and etched their name into the West London club’s history.

Despite the remarkable feats of Di Matteo in the caretaker role, a permanent position as the club’s main man was not freely forthcoming, with Abramovich incredibly weighing up his options and leaving the coach that had just led the Blues to European glory in limbo.

With the common perception that the Russian owner was hoping to lure Pep Guardiola to Stamford Bridge, this in itself was a massive mark of disrespect to a former player and successful manager that had the backing of the squad and fans.

After finally been given a two-year deal, Di Matteo’s time as the club’s permanent boss heralded mixed fortunes, but the Swiss-born man was not given ample time and discarded at the first possible opportunity.

After the highs and lows of being Chelsea boss, with the period only spanning nine months in total, the Italian was understandably cagey in selecting his next role in the game.

After almost two years away from the sport, Di Matteo took on another position with the feel of a poisoned chalice to it by accepting the manager’s role at Schalke.

The Gelsenkirchen club have been the nearlymen of German football for so many years, with a talented squad, resources to burn but a lack of prolonged success.

With the Ruhr Valley outfit in 11th when Di Matteo took over, the new man made progress and looked to have salvaged the club’s season with excellent domestic results.

However, a poor run of form at the end of the campaign saw Schalke slip out of the Champions League qualification berths and finish sixth.

The German side were eliminated from Europe by Real Madrid, but Di Matteo inspired his side to a memorable 4-3 victory at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in exiting the competition.

With controversy never too far away from Schalke, the manager’s departure is not wholly surprising and again Di Matteo is left reflecting on leaving a major club having not done huge amounts wrong.

The Italian needs a new employer that is willing to give him time, back him and treat him with the respect that he deserves.

Unfortunately, these are in short supply in the modern game and as such it remains to be seen where this gifted manager that has been short of luck will end up next.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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