CHELSEA chiefs last night insisted Roberto di Matteo had been the “clear choice” to be their next manager after confirming the Italian’s appointment on a two-year contract.
Di Matteo took over on a temporary basis in March following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas and transformed a flagging side, leading them to the FA Cup and a first-ever Champions League. But he has had to wait almost four weeks since that glorious end to the season to be handed a permanent contract, amid speculation Blues owner Roman Abramovich wanted a bigger name.
Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, ex-England manager Fabio Capello and Stamford Bridge favourite Jose Mourinho were all strongly linked with the role.
“Roberto’s quality was clear for all to see when he galvanised the squad last season and helped the club make history, and the owner and board are very pleased he will be continuing his good work,” said chief executive Ron Gourlay.
“We all believed he was a young coach with much to offer when we first asked him to take charge in March and the manner in which he worked with us, the players and all the staff, and the success that followed, made him the clear choice when it came to selecting the person to take us forward in the seasons to come.”
Former Chelsea midfielder Di Matteo, 42, has already seen the club spend big on signing Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard and Germany midfielder Marko Marin, although talismanic forward Didier Drogba has left the club.
“I’m obviously delighted to have been appointed,” said Di Matteo. “We all achieved incredible success last season that made history for this great club. Our aim is to continue building on that and I’m already planning and looking forward to the squad’s return for pre-season.”