Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ROMAN BOOTS OUT HIS HERO COACH; OLIGARCH'S BILL FOR FIRING EIGHT MANAGERS HITS [Pounds sterling]90M; Chelsea Fans in Disbelief at Brutal Sacking of Di Matteo

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ROMAN BOOTS OUT HIS HERO COACH; OLIGARCH'S BILL FOR FIRING EIGHT MANAGERS HITS [Pounds sterling]90M; Chelsea Fans in Disbelief at Brutal Sacking of Di Matteo

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH today sacked R the man who led Chelsea to Champions League glory just six months ago.

The axing of Roberto di Matteo takes the Russian's bill for hiring and firing eight managers in nine years to an estimated [pounds sterling]90 million.

Di Matteo was told about the decision in his office at the club's training ground in Cobham at 4am by chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay. The team had just flown back from a 3-0 defeat in Turin.

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was believed to be travelling to London from Abu Dhabi for talks with A Chelsea about taking over as caretaker until the end of the season. The defeat by Juventus last night leaves the club facing the humiliation of becoming the first Champions League holder to exit at the group stage.

Supporters expressed disbelief today that a coach who had delivered the most prestigious club prize to Stamford Bridge in May could be so brutally despatched.

One fan, using the name London Blue, wrote on Chelsea's website minutes after the announcement: "My club is becoming the laughing stock of the football world."

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand described Chelsea's decision as "madness".

Celebrity followers of the King's Road club took to Twitter. Singer Olly Murs said: "How Chelsea FC is run is a ridiculous!" Ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: "Ridiculous decision from Chelsea ... RDM wins the trophy they have been chasing for years and now gets the Boot..." Gary Lineker said: "Roberto Di Matteo has been fired by Chelsea. The Roman emperor puts the thumbs down yet again."

In a statement Chelsea said: "The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary."

The Russian oligarch has proved a ruthless hirer and firer of the top managerial talents in football since he bought Chelsea for [pounds sterling]140 million in 2003. …

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