The axe falls on Di Matteo at Chelsea

Chelsea have sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo.

The popular former Blues player, who led the club to European glory earlier this year, paid the price for a recent poor run of results.

An early exit from the Champions League is on the cards following Tuesday’s defeat to Juventus, which prompted his dismissal.

His successor is expected to be announced shortly, with former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola widely reported to be club owner Roman Abramovich’s preferred choice.

Ex-Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has also been linked with the job.

A Chelsea statement read: “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

“The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the Uefa Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions.

“Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

“The owner and the board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March.

“Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club’s history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.”

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