Roberto Di Matteo signed a deal to become the new manager of Aston Villa on Friday ahead of the side's first stint in the second tier for 28 years.
The agreement was announced by the club via Twitter:
Per a statement on the club's website, the Italian said: "It's a wonderful honour for me to become manager of this great football club and I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking Aston Villa back to its rightful place."
Journalists Nathan Judah and Dan Levene reacted positively to the appointment, while the Times' Oliver Kay gave a reminder of just how big a job he faces:
Di Matteo takes charge of a club in turmoil after a disastrous 2015-16 season. Villa were relegated from the top flight of English football for the first time since 1987 after gathering a meagre 17 points from their 38 Premier League games.
Tim Sherwood, Remi Garde and Eric Black took charge of the club during the turbulent campaign; Di Matteo will be hoping to fare a lot better.
In management, after stints with MK Dons and West Bromwich Albion, Di Matteo memorably guided the Chelsea to their first UEFA Champions League triumph in 2012. He was sacked later that year following a poor run of form and took over at Schalke 04 in 2014; he resigned in 2015 after a sixth-place finish.
As noted by Bleacher Report UK, along with Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez, the Championship has two managers who have won the biggest prize in European club football:
What might be of more immediate concern to Villa fans is how he fared in England's second tier during his time there with the Baggies. WhoScored.com revealed his impressive win rate as he guided the West Midlands outfit to automatic promotion at the first attempt—appropriately going up with Newcastle:
While he has had success in the past, he’s never overseen two full seasons in any of his jobs to date.
His teams have played attractive football, particularly for spells at West Brom and Schalke. But when the situation required at Chelsea, Di Matteo was able to set his side up to perform outstanding defensive displays, most memorably in the semi-final and final of their 2012 Champions League wins against Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.
Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe thinks former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson would have been a good fit, while Raj Bains of uMAXit Football is unsure whether Di Matteo is the right man:
The new Villa boss will inevitably bring in his own players and staff, but his main challenge will be galvanising a group that was undisciplined and unmotivated for long spells of the previous season. Black branded the club as “toxic” during his temporary spell in charge, per Stephen Turner of Sky Sports.
If Di Matteo can turn things around, the Midlands team could be a tremendous project for the Italian, as they’re one of the most prestigious and historical clubs in the English game. But there’s no denying the Italian will have his work cut out at Villa Park, having arguably taken on the toughest job of his career to date.