In February 2011 West Brom made a ruthless decision to sack Roberto di Mateo - one that seemed harsh to many observers at the time.

As with most sackings, the pundits were largely against it. With hindsight, though, there is little doubt that the right choice was made. For all the plaudits the Baggies' attacking style had won, they had slipped to 17th - out of the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Despite the position that he left Albion in, speculation is mounting that Di Matteo could be about to be handed his old job back. It seems odd that a manager who wasn't up to the task of keeping Albion up two years ago should be handed the job back now that they are in the same position.

A lot can happen in a few years I hear you say, so let's investigate former Chelsea defender Di Matteo's and Albion's post-sacking history.

Since dumping Di Matteo, the Baggies have been riding high. The now England manager Roy Hodgson guided Albion away from relegation, finishing 11th and 10th in two seasons. Along the way, there were also memorable wins at Anfield and a 5-1 demolition of local rivals Wolves. After Hodgson left, Steve Clarke then guided WBA to the club's highest finish since 1981.

Now to Di Matteo. After leaving the Hawthorns, he served as assistant manager at Chelsea. After Andre Villas-Boas got the push, he became interim head coach. Di Matteo was nominally in charge as Chelsea clinched both the FA Cup and an improbable Champions League trophy.

With an FA Cup and Champions League title on his resume, you might well ask why Di Matteo wouldn't be a good choice for manager at WBA. A closer look at his time at Chelsea reveals the answer.

The Chelsea team that Di Matteo led was simply the old guard resurrected to prominence after being sidelined under the previous regime. Ever strong through the spine, using Didier Drogba as the focal point of a very effect battering ram the old guard led themselves to cup silverware. Images of John Terry gesturing tactics from the bench clearly showed where the power and influence sat.

On top of this, the Champions League performances showed Di Matteo's tactical naivety. Against Barcelona in the semi-finals and Bayern Munich in the final, the Blues were outplayed as the opposition dominated.

Chelsea's victories relied on fantastic individual performances that triumphed in spite of Di Matteo's lack of tactical nouse.

This fact was confirmed during the next season. After an initially strong start to the season, Chelsea crashed out to the Champions League in the group stages with a a poor run of form with only two wins from eight sealing Di Matteo's fate.

In many ways, this was a perfect miniature of Di Matteo's managerial career - a good run of results at the start that he is unable to continue in the long term. In an increasingly competitive Premier League campaign, Di Matteo's tactical weaknesses could again be picked apart by opposing managers.

Handing Di Matteo the reins at WBA would be mistake that would most likely end in relegation.

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Topics:
#Roberto Di Matteo
#West Bromwich Albion
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