19th May 2012: Roberto Di Matteo guides Chelsea to a famous Champions League win, triumphing 2-1 over a heavily fancied Bayern Munich team, in their own back yard, the Allianz Arena.
Just over 4 years later, and Di Matteo finds his managerial career in tatters, having been sacked by Aston Villa with them 19th, on a run of 9 games without a win, with only one win all season.
Soon after that stunning night in Munich, Di Matteo, who was only interim boss at the time, was perhaps surprisingly removed from his position in November of the next season, by ruthless Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
After two years out, he was hired as manager of Schalke, but resigned at the end of that same season, as the club finished 6th in the Bundesliga.
Another year’s break followed, and when he was appointed Aston Villa manager at the start of this season, it seemed like a perfect fit for both parties looking to rebuild their reputation.
So how has it gone so spectacularly wrong?
Firstly, although the players they have brought in have been of high quality, and are mostly experienced as well, they have simply had not enough time to gel. Many were brought in late in the transfer window, such as Albert Adomah and Jonathan Kodjia, and this has led to them not finding the form that persuaded the Villains to splash out big money on them.
And whilst those signings have been exceptionally high-profile, there is also a marked emphasis on team spirit and togetherness required in the Championship, and their signings have not been abloe to easily buy into the teams philosophy, contributing to Di Matteo’s downfall.
As easy as it is to blame the players and the lack of spirit, Di Matteo himself has to shoulder the majority of the blame. His managerial ability is clear, you don’t win the Champions League as underdogs by being a poor manager, but he has just not been able to adjust to the Saturday-Tuesday rigours of the Championship.
All of these have made a disastrous combination, which ultimately has contributed to Di Matteo’s startling downfall.