On this day in 2012 – Chelsea replace Andre Villas-Boas with Roberto Di Matteo

Chelsea turned to Roberto Di Matteo as interim manager after firing Andre Villas-Boas on this day in 2012.

The highly-rated Portuguese coach, 34, was shown the exit door by Roman Abramovich just eight months after the Blues forked out £13.3million to buy him out of his Porto contract,

Chelsea had won just five of 16 matches when Villas-Boas was sacked, seeing them slide out of the top four at a time when their Champions League and FA Cup hopes were in jeopardy.

It was threatening to be the worst season since Abramovich took over and eyebrows were raised when the club turned to fan favourite Di Matteo – Villas-Boas’ assistant.

There had been speculation that ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez would be brought in – something that would happen later that year – but the west London club instead turned to their former midfielder.

“At any club, there’s pressure to achieve certain targets – it’s always there,” the former MK Dons and West Brom boss, 41, said after becoming Chelsea’s eighth manager in as many years.

“Even if you’re working at another club. If you can’t handle it, don’t want it, you shouldn’t be in this job.

Roberto Di Matteo was assistant to Andre Villas-Boas
Roberto Di Matteo was assistant to Andre Villas-Boas (Nick Potts/PA)

“We are in a results-driven business. It’s very simple. At any club where you work, you’ll have targets and the pressure is there. Everywhere.

“That’s the common aspect for any manager, in League One, League Two, Championship or Premier League.”

The interim appointment of Di Matteo for the remainder of the 2011-12 season proved inspired.

Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to Champions League glory
Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to Champions League glory (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The former Italy international led Chelsea to their fourth FA Cup success in six seasons, before masterminding their maiden Champions League title with victory over Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.

Di Matteo was rewarded with a two-year deal that June, only to be ruthlessly sacked 23 weeks later.

Benitez was brought in for the remainder of the season and led the club to the 2013 Europa League crown.