Chelsea fired coach Roberto Di Matteo on Wednesday, one day after another loss in the Champions League left the defending champions on the brink of elimination.
Di Matteo, who took over last season after Andres Villas-Boas was fired, led Chelsea to its first Champions League title in May. But after a 3-0 loss to Juventus on Tuesday in Turin, the London club is in danger of becoming the first defending champion to fail to advance from the group stage.
“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,” Chelsea said in a statement on its website.
There was no immediate announcement on a replacement for Di Matteo.
Chelsea is in third place in Group E behind Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus. The Blues next face Danish club Nordsjaelland, but they could still be eliminated even if they win depending on other results.
In the Premier League, Chelsea had been leading for much of the season, but now is third behind Manchester City and Manchester United.
“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,” Chelsea said.
Chelsea’s next game will be a home Premier League match against league leader Manchester City on Sunday.
The 42-year-old Di Matteo is a Swiss-born Italian who played for Italy’s national team and also served as a midfielder for Chelsea. After his retirement, he went into coaching and led both the MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion before taking over at Chelsea last season on an interim basis.
Under Di Matteo, Chelsea excelled. The team first eliminated defending champion Barcelona from the Champions League semifinals, and then beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup.
Two weeks after the Wembley victory, Chelsea rallied to force extra time against Bayern Munich and gone on to win the Champions League final.
In June, about a month after he led the team to the European title, Di Matteo was permanently awarded the coaching job at Chelsea.