Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is the first casualty of the season. 8

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, was dramatically fired early this morning by Chelsea billioninaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Roberto Di Matteo Sacked

Roberto Di Matteo Sacked

The pressure mounted on Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo, as his Chelsea side lost 3-0 on the road to Juventus, putting Chelsea on the brink of exiting the Champions league and the ability to defend their title.

In a performance where it appeared that the manager had gotten everything wrong, from player selection to tactics, Chelsea were resoundingly outplayed by Juventus, with Chelsea having only sporadic breakaways, creating scoring opportunities that kept them in the game. Tactically, for di Matteo, it seemed that it was not right. He started the game with no recognized striker on the field, instead deciding to go with Juan Mata as the frontman, even though he had a healthy Fernando Torres on the bench.

From the opening whistle Chelsea were under siege, they sat deep defensively allowing Juventus to dictate the play and possession. If it wasn’t for wasteful finishing and poor decision-making in the final 1/3, and great goalkeeper from Petr Cech, the score would have been a lot worse. Chelsea looked nothing liked the side that had triumphed so valiantly a few months ago, but rather like the team that have defended so poorly in the last month.

It’s amazing how fast things can change. For the first 6 weeks of the season, Chelsea were flying high and di Matteo was being lauded for what a good job he was doing. With a frontline of Edin Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, Chelsea were unstoppable, playing the most attractive soccer in the league.

But there was trouble on the horizon, first the John Terry, racial abuse case resulted in a 4 game ban for the Chelsea captain. In his absence, the once impenetrable Chelsea defense looked very brittle and all of a sudden they began leaking goals like relegation candidates. The first stone to fall was their controversial defeat to Manchester United followed up by a string of poor performances, coincidently, the same time period that Terry has been gone.

In that time span Chelsea have picked up only 2 points in 4 games, including losses to Manchester United and WBA, with draws against Liverpool and Swansea. A run of form that has seen then drop from 1st to 3rd place.

After today’s Champions league loss to Juventus, they find themselves in 3rd place with one game to go. Only the top two teams will advance. Chelsea’s fate does not lie in their hands instead they will have to depend upon results elsewhere for them to advance. If they fail to advance, it will be the first time in Champions league history where the defending champions have not advanced.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is notorious for firing underperforming managers, the rumors were already out there that Abramovich was lining up Avram Grant or Rafael Benitez as possible back-ups. With the season on the brink and the possibility of champions league exit, it was a matter of when, not if, di Matteo would get his marching orders.
Dramatically, Abramovich has acted. We will have to wait to see who fills the void.