Chelsea favourite Di Matteo out to plot Blues’ European downfall

Frank Dalleres
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CHAMPIONS League-winning former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo is on course for an emotional reunion with the Blues after being appointed coach of German outfit Schalke.

The Bundesliga side, who are in the same European group as the Stamford Bridge club and are set to host them next month, moved for Di Matteo after firing Jens Keller for a sluggish start to the season.

It is the Italian’s first job since being sacked by Chelsea in November 2012, just five months after leading them to their only Champions League triumph by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.

Di Matteo, who has also managed MK Dons and West Brom, only took the reins on a caretaker basis in March that year, following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas.

The former Chelsea midfielder, 44, guided them to FA Cup victory and then improbable glory in Germany to earn himself a permanent – if short-lived – contract.

Schalke relieved Keller of his post after he won just two of the club’s first seven league games and managed only two points from a possible six in Europe. One of those came in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, with the return fixture scheduled for 25 November.

“We want to give a new impulse,” said Schalke sports director Horst Heldt. “We are absolutely convinced that Roberto di Matteo can stabilise the team and reach its Bundesliga and Champions League goals.”