Premier League - Chelsea sack Di Matteo

Chelsea have announced the departure of manager Roberto Di Matteo following a Champions League defeat to Juventus.

Di Matteo was given the job on a permanent basis in the summer after leading Chelsea to an unexpected first Champions League triumph but a 3-0 loss in Turin, following a run of only two wins in seven games in all competitions, has brought a swift end to his reign.

A club statement read: "Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.

"The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

"The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

"The owner and the board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.

"The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager."

Di Matteo hinted after the loss to Juve that any questions over his future should be put to Abramovich, not him.

"At the moment, I think, with the team, we are all in it together," he said. "I'm responsible for the results and at the moment I am here and I think I will be for the future.

"But that question [about my future] is probably not one you should ask me. As far as I'm concerned, I'll keep working. But I'm responsible for the result. I'm responsible for the performance.

"It's a negative evening for us – a big disappointment for us, for the team, for the club. If anyone has to take the blame, it's me. I selected a team I was convinced was the right team to win against Juventus, or get at least a draw, so the blame belongs to me."

Abramovich is reportedly willing to offer Spaniard Rafa Benitez - who has been out of work since leaving Internazionale in 2010 - a deal until the end of the season. Benitez won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 and reached the final in 2007.

Abramovich is believed to want to install former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola as permanent boss when his year-long sabbatical in New York comes to an end in the summer, and Benitez would appear to be the perfect stop-gap.

Di Matteo had overseen a change in playing style this season, with three attacking midfielders - usually summer signings Eden Hazard and Oscar, plus Spain star Juan Mata - employed behind a striker, with £50 million Fernando Torres finally the undisputed first choice following the exit of Didier Drogba.

However the Italian, a former playing star at Stamford Bridge, left out Torres on Tuesday, effectively playing without a front man - a bold move that backfired.

Abramovich has a trigger-happy reputation. He sacked Avram Grant after the Israeli led Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final then disposed of his replacement Luiz Felipe Scolari after less than a season in charge following public criticism from the players.

Guus Hiddink came in on a temporary basis - alongside his duties as Russia coach - and won the Double before returning to his national job full-time.

Carlo Ancelotti was the oligarch's next victim before Andre Villas-Boas - who had enjoyed a sensational debut season with Porto, romping to the league title and winning the Portuguese Cup and Europa League - came in to instigate a change to the more fluent style that Abramovich craved.

However he also fell out with the veteran players at Chelsea, lasting only nine months before the axe fell - and Di Matteo steadied the ship, taking a more pragmatic Chelsea to that famous European triumph in Munich against Bayern.

Benitez was approached about taking over from Villas-Boas, but was unwilling to do so at that time.