• Premier League

Gullit shocked at Di Matteo axing

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012
What's next for Chelsea?

Ruud Gullit has been shocked at the ruthless way Chelsea ended manager Roberto Di Matteo's short spell in charge of the club.

Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea on Wednesday morning after a 3-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus left them in danger of becoming the first holders to exit the competition in the group stage.

The Italian manager also oversaw a winless run of four games in the Premier League and two defeats in the last three European ties, but Gullit, who managed Di Matteo during his time as Chelsea manager, remains shocked at the timing of his departure.

"I can't believe that Chelsea just sacked him without knowing who is going to be the next one,'' Gullit told Sky Sports News.

"I will be curious to see what they do in the next couple of days. I can't believe they have just sacked him out of the blue and then they'll be thinking about who is going to be the next one. I don't think so.

"I think they have already in mind who is going to be the next one. It could of course be Mourinho, if it happens, I don't know because it is in the middle of the season.

"I already had a very good feeling that when Robbie won the Champions League that maybe they (the Chelsea board) already had somebody else in the frame to take over.

"I don't think they took any notice of the fact that Robbie could win it. That was the reason I believe that they took so long to sign Robbie because they were looking for other people. In the end they gave it to Robbie.

"I always had the feeling that Mourinho was in the frame all the time - for the simple reason that he signed just after Chelsea won the Champions League. He signed his contract with Real Madrid and for me that is no coincidence."

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand echoed Gullit's disbelief, describing Di Matteo's sacking as "madness" and advocating the need for managerial stability in order to bring sustained success.

Ferdinand, who has only worked under Sir Alex Ferguson during his decade at Old Trafford, wrote on Twitter: "Wow, Chelsea have sacked their manager!!

"I'm a bit late I know but its a madness. The stability at our club is something our manager rarely gets praise for...don't under-estimate that."

Alan Pardew, who recently signed an eight-year contract extension at Newcastle, was also in disbelief at Chelsea's decision to part with their manager. Pardew described the sacking as "unfair" and insisted Di Matteo did nothing to warrant being put out of a job.

"I'm astonished really. It just goes to show you how precarious we are as managers," Pardew said. "You can't take anything for granted. The shock there is from the media and the fans should sound out to the owner of that club.

"Is that their ninth manager in a few years? It is just unfair. As far as I'm concerned he's done absolutely nothing wrong. The philosophy was to try to change the look of the team. That doesn't happen overnight. He's won two competitions in less than a year. It is unbelievable. He should walk straight into another job."

Meanwhile Juventus legend Dino Zoff is confident Di Matteo will bounce back from his disappointment at Chelsea.  "It's a shame, he's a man and a coach who knows what is going on," Zoff told TuttoMercatoWeb. "Getting sacked happens, but he is an exemplary professional and he'll know how to pick himself back up.

"Di Matteo is ready for anything. It may have ended badly at Chelsea, but facing this Juventus side is not easy."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.