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Roberto Di Matteo Appointed Aston Villa Manager: Latest Details and Reaction

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2016

Schalke's head coach Roberto Di Matteo is pictured during the German first division Bundesliga football match of FC Cologne vs FC Schalke 04 in Cologne, western Germany on May 10, 2015.    AFP PHOTO / SASCHA SCHUERMANN

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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:

Aston Villa FC @AVFCOfficial

We’re delighted to announce that Roberto Di Matteo is our new manager. Details: https://t.co/DZuUWBUJFO https://t.co/RtsaVZLIo6

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:

Nathan Judah @njudah_star

BREAKING: Finally Roberto Di Matteo is the new manager of @AVFCOfficial #avfc https://t.co/NvTUjRVGd6 https://t.co/RLZrewjeYH

Dan Levene @danlevene

Robbie Di Matteo and Stevie Clarke to The Villa. Might have a reason to watch the midlands this coming season after all.

Oliver Kay @OliverKayTimes

i.e. #AVFC need an overhaul. It needs someone to rebuild the club and drag it forward. Not just on training pitch but in every respect.

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.

Villa endured a dismal 2015-16 season.
Villa endured a dismal 2015-16 season.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The 46-year-old heads to Villa Park with a fine reputation. During his playing days, he starred for Lazio and Chelsea, and he represented Italy on 34 occasions. 

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:

B/R Football @brfootball

Roberto Di Matteo named manager of #AVFC The 2016/17 @SkyBetChamp will have two Champions League winning managers https://t.co/8GY86t6dGP

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:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Roberto Di Matteo: Has won 26 of the 46 Championship matches he has taken charge of as a manager (56.5%) #avfc https://t.co/XisAqruYBM

While he has had success in the past, he’s never overseen two full seasons in any of his jobs to date.

Di Matteo pushed Chelsea to European glory.
Di Matteo pushed Chelsea to European glory.Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

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:

Raj Bains @BainsXIII

@stighefootball Di Matteo is a good bet for first sacking of the season. Don't think he has the right gravitas to pull Villa out of a spin.

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.

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