Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Clarke have been brought together and given the task of trying to revitalise a fallen club. Clarke was Di Matteo’s first appointment as manager of Aston Villa – and it could be an inspired move.
Steve Clarke’s last job in management was at Reading, where he led The Royals to the FA Cup semi-final just over a year ago. A poor start to the following season saw him sacked from that job, although many would say that was a harsh decision.
Roberto Di Matteo needs no introduction, being the manager who guided Chelsea Football Club to its only Champions League title in 2012. It should also be noted that he led the Blues to FA Cup success that season as well. Although he had control of Chelsea’s team for just a few months, he still managed to achieve immense success.
After he was sacked by Chelsea, Di Matteo moved to Germany to manage FC Schalke 04. He only lasted eight months at Schalke: he resigned as manager in May 2015 following after his side finished sixth in the Bundesliga, which meant he had failed to achieved his stated target of securing a Champions League spot.
Di Matteo and Clarke both have playing and coaching experience with Chelsea, with Clarke last at the club as an assistant manager and a key part of Jose Mourinho’s backroom staff during the Portuguese manager’s first spell with the club.
Mourinho has since claimed that Steve Clarke was pivotal in Chelsea’s title successes in 2005 and 2006. According to Mourinho, he was in control of training and match preparation during the two seasons in which Chelsea enjoyed Premier League success.
What Steve Clarke will do in his role as assistant manager is organise Villa’s defence in the upcoming season. Clarke, a former defender himself, has been praised for his teams’ defensive abilities in the past and that will no doubt be something that Di Matteo will want to draw upon.
With Roberto Di Matteo, Aston Villa has a manager who will look to play expansive football and look to score goals. Having Clarke will allow Di Matteo to focus on the forward line and coaching attacking football.
One thing that should give Villa fans confidence is that these two men have both managed West Bromwich Albion relatively successfully. Di Matteo was in charge when the Baggies were last promoted to the Premier League, so his experience in that season will be a huge bonus to Villa in the 2016-17 season. Meanwhile, Clarke managed to get West Bromwich Albion to eighth in the Premier League – one of their highest finishes in the Premier League – before he was sacked and replaced by Pepe Mel the following season, a decision that is questioned to this day.
Di Matteo and Clarke have the necessary experience to lead Aston Villa next season and their contrasting styles of coaching will most likely work in favour of the team next season. All that is needed now is a squad that Villa fans can get behind.