Hungry for Success: A Roberto Di Matteo Story


Dec 7, 2011
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30th of December, 2012
Roberto Di Matteo takes over!

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Italian manager Roberto Di Matteo has today been announced as the manager of FC Schalke 04 after long discussions over Huub Stevens' replacement. The board of FC Schalke announced Di Matteo as manager at a press conference at the Veltins-Arena this morning in front of a large media gathering two weeks after Dutchman Stevens was sacked.

The former PSV Eindhoven manager left the club in 10th position having picked up just 25 points in 17 games - 7 positions away from their expected league place of 3rd. Despite their dismal league form, Huub Stevens still managed to safely steer Schalke through to the First Knockout Round of the UEFA Champions League where they will face Barclays Premier League holders Manchester City after finishing top of Group D.

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Di Matteo, who has been out of work since last month, takes charge with three weeks to prepare for his first competitive game due to the winter break. Nurnberg are his first opponents - although the former Chelsea manager has friendly games against Argentinians River Plate, Brazilian giants Sao Paulo and fellow Germans Wormatia Worms. The popular manager already has several important achievements to his name - after winning both the English FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in his short stint as Chelsea manager. After growing up in the countryside of Switzerland, Di Matteo played for Zurich and Lazio before a (near) £5,000,000 move to English side Chelsea. His wide array of talent saw him become one of the driving forces behind Chelsea's resurgence in the late 1990's while he was capped 34 times for Italy - scoring twice.

After a 10 year break from football, Di Matteo made his first venture into management with League One Milton Keynes Dons and led the side to a 3rd place finish before being beaten in the play-off semi-final's on penalties by Scunthorpe United. Soon after, he was approached by Midlands club West Bromwich Albion and led the side to promotion in his first season. Midway through his second season in charge, Di Matteo was sacked (a decision which was met with huge disapproval from the clubs' faithful fans) and after a short break, he was appointed as Andre Villas-Boas' assistant at Chelsea. Eight months later, he replaced the Portuguese manager on an initially short-term contract - although it was soon extended after leading the club to FA Cup and UEFA Champions League glory. Just five months after signing a long-term contract, Di Matteo was sacked and replaced by Spaniard Rafa Benitez.

Upon his arrival at the Veltins-Arena, Di Matteo was immediately questioned about his dismissal at Chelsea:

"My spell at Chelsea is in the past for me. I had a successful period there and enjoyed every minute of it - it's a football club I love. The fans, players and staff all deserve huge credit for what was achieved last year and I hope Rafa can give the fans more silverware because they are deserving supporters. But for me personally, my focus is now on the job I have to do at Schalke. It's a famous club with huge potential and I hope to be successful here - the current group of players can bring success to this club because they all have good ability."

The media's attention soon turned to the league position Schalke currently occupy:

"10th isn't an ideal position for a club the size of Schalke but the Bundesliga is a competitive league and I think we need to be aware of the dangers each team pose. Obviously the fans and board feel the club should be operating at a higher league position and I believe it's achievable otherwise I wouldn't be here. I'm fully confident I can raise the standard of football currently being shown by the players and take the club into next year's European competitions."

And finally, Di Matteo was questioned on possible transfers of the club:

"I think it's fairly well known that the club don't have huge amounts of money to be spent on players coming in. The board and myself have discussed, although not in depth, possible transfer targets for the club and it's something we'll work on together. I think it's important that we don't just buy for the sake of it - myself and the scouting team have to be 100% certain on any players we place bids for. There are one or two players in the side that other teams could be interested in and we'll work to get the best possible deal for the club in this harsh financial climate."

During his short managerial career, Di Matteo has showed great potential and has built a strong following for himself with his free-flowing football. The Italian has proven he is able to adapt as a manager with performances such as Chelsea's at the Nou Camp last season where his side famously earned a result which saw them progress into the UEFA Champions League Final. Despite the success he has already brought to his past clubs, fans and pundits alike are eager to see what the young manager can achieve at Schalke.
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Friendly: 5th of January, 2013
Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti
River Plate 1-2 Schalke

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Roberto Di Matteo's first match as manager of Schalke ended well as his side managed to overcome Argentinians River Plate thanks to goals from American midfielder Jermaine Jones and experienced defender Christoph Metzelder.

The 14,000 mile round trip for the German side was deemed a success following the game by Italian manager Di Matteo who had watched his side comfortably beat the South American giants. A string of training injuries to several players including striker Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar as well as wingers Jefferson Farfan and Tranquillo Barnetta allowed Di Matteo to give youngsters Christoph Moritz and Maximilian Meyer a chance in the team as well as ageing striker Edu.

The efficient German's took the lead midway through the first half through a penalty. Young winger Meyer was felled in the box and Jermaine Jones stepped up. Despite missing the initial kick, Jones tapped in the rebound to give his team the advantage. Experienced centre back Christoph Metzelder doubled Schalke's lead after the half-time break when he headed home Julian Draxler's superb free-kick. Ageing striker David Trezeguet, capped 71 times by France, halved the deficit when he headed home a curling free-kick taken by Leonardo Ponzio. The former Juventus player looked to inspire his team mates throughout the game - although River lacked conviction as their German opponents were efficient in front of goal.

After the game, Di Matteo was questioned on his teams performance:

"The team performed admirably today as we faced tough opposition in the shape of River Plate and their 24,000 fans. Several youngsters made appearances today due to the unfortunate injuries we suffered in the run up to the game and gave a performance beyond their tender years. Jermaine Jones gave a good account of himself today and he's already one of the players I'm keeping an eye on as he seems a real leader within the team. We face Brazilians Sao Paulo in four days time and hope to have at least Huntelaar back in time for that match as I haven't even seen him train yet."

Schalke line-up:

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Substitutes: Fahrmann, Howedes, Afellay, Pukki, Papadopoulos, Draxler, Marica, Uchida, Neustadter, Kyei, Hoger and Caillas.
Yay, Ze Carlos is back. Great start mate, as always will be following. :)

:) following
Quality start! Love the depth and detail!!
must admit I hated Di Matteo after he scored after 43 seconds against my beloved Boro in the 97 FA cup final, but got a soft spot for him now after the way he was treated at Chelsea!! Will follow!!
Yay, Ze Carlos is back. Great start mate, as always will be following. :)


:) following

Quality start! Love the depth and detail!!
must admit I hated Di Matteo after he scored after 43 seconds against my beloved Boro in the 97 FA cup final, but got a soft spot for him now after the way he was treated at Chelsea!! Will follow!!

Thanks for the comments lads! :D

Yeah Robbie, I wanted to write in a bit more depth than usual. Want to just kind of have a free style so I can write whatever I want. Some may think the story will move slowly but I guess it's what I want - hopefully I can keep you all interested! :)
Thanks for the comments lads! :D

Yeah Robbie, I wanted to write in a bit more depth than usual. Want to just kind of have a free style so I can write whatever I want. Some may think the story will move slowly but I guess it's what I want - hopefully I can keep you all interested! :)

No worries, you have given me an idea for my next story, hope you don't mind it being similar. :D
Of course not mate - glad I've given you an idea haha

yeah you have mate, was going to start a long term save, but after reading this, a story idea popped into my head and I'm going with that before my long term idea. Cheers mate, loving the work as always. :D
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8th of January, 2013
Roberto Di Matteo makes first ventures into transfer market

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Mohamed Diame was today unveiled as Roberto Di Matteo's first signing after taking over at FC Schalke. The Senegalese international joins from Barclays Premier League side West Ham United for a fee of £3,500,000 and will look to slot into the Schalke first-team as they look to improve their position in the Bundesliga.

The midfielder joins the club just days into Roberto Di Matteo's reign and leaves the Barclays Premier League after 3 and a half years spent at both Wigan Athletic and West Ham United. After joining Wigan from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano, Diame established himself as a commanding midfielder in English football and attracted interest from top clubs Manchester United and Arsenal. When his contract expired three years after joining Wigan, newly promoted West Ham United stepped in and offered the midfielder a deal. In his contract lay a clause which allowed clubs to sign the powerful midfielder for a mere £3,500,000 - a deal which Di Matteo was delighted to sign. Diame is definitely unavailable to play in Schalke's next friendly game (against Brazilians Sao Paulo) and may also miss the clubs' final friendly game before they face Nurnberg.

After long contractual talks with Mohamed Diame's agent, Roberto Di Matteo turned his attentions elsewhere and has signed Eredivisie defensive pair Douglas (of Twente) and Bruno Martins Indi (of Feyenoord) on pre-contract deals which will see the duo join Schalke at the end of the season. Despite already having a strong defensive line-up, Di Matteo was eager to sign the two defenders before a list of other clubs could pursue their interest.

Following the purchase of Diame, Di Matteo immediately turned his attentions to raising funds due to the current poor financial position of the German club. 24-year-old goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann joined English side Liverpool for a fee of £4,000,000 as Di Matteo felt the experienced Timo Hildebrand and youngster Lars Unnerstall were of high enough ability to compete for the goalkeeping position in his side. Former Kashima Antlers right back Atsuto Uchida is currently in contractual talks with London giants Arsenal over a possible £5,500,000 move after Italian manager Di Matteo announced that the Japanese defender was surplus to requirements.

Following the sudden flurry of transfer action, Italian manager Roberto Di Matteo is reportedly looking forward to hosting South American giants Sao Paulo at the Veltins-Arena tomorrow and will hope his players can pick up another win against impressive opposition.
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I'll be following mate :)! hope this one lasts mate! good luck.

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Friendly: 9th of January, 2013
Veltins-Arena | 51,720
Schalke 1-0 Sao Paulo

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In Roberto Di Matteo's second friendly game, FC Schalke comfortably overcame Brazilian heavyweights Sao Paulo after an early goal from returning striker Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar.

The Dutch striker was able to return to the team following an injury which has so far ruled him out of Di Matteo's training sessions - along with Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan who started on the bench for the first time under the Italian manager. Following the German sides' trip to South America to face River Plate, Di Matteo was reportedly worried about his players' fitness levels - playing two games in four days added salt to the already bleeding wounds of a 14,000 mile round trip to Argentina.

To many peoples' surprise, former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo named a strong side which may give some indication to the importance these friendly games have to the Italian boss. His decision to rest few key players was proven to be a good choice when Dutchman Huntelaar smashed home with just 4 minutes on the clock. Positive build-up play involving Christoph Moritz and on-loan winger Ibrahim Afellay allowed right-back Pliatsikas to cross for the striker who has been capped 61 times by his country. After taking a brilliant first touch, Huntelaar smashed the ball into the top corner of the net from 8 yards out. Following the early goal, both teams looked to create further chances but neither managed to show genuine intent going forward.

After the game, Di Matteo was questioned on how prepared he felt his team were to face Nurnberg in 10 days time:

"I think it's too early to say as I've been at the club for just over a week but the signs the team are showing are very positive for myself as well as the coaching staff. In training, the players are showing a real willingness to learn and have a positive attitude towards improving themselves. In the game today against Sao Paulo we saw a real improvement in terms of the performance over that of the performance we showed in Argentina. However, I'm aware the club still finds itself in a difficult position in terms of the domestic league and it's something I look forward to improving. At the end of the day, two wins against two very strong sides in the form of Sao Paulo and River Plate are very encouraging results and show we're obviously doing something right."

Schalke line-up:

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Substitutes: Unnerstall, Howedes, Neustadter, Edu, Kolasinac, Draxler, Kyei, Uchida, Hoger, Pukki, Caillas, Farfan.
Loving the story ZeCarlos and looking forward to seeing what you do with the Hunter.
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Friendly: 12th of January, 2013
EWR-Arena | 5,417
Wormatia Worms 0-2 Schalke

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FC Schalke's final friendly of the winter break saw them easily overcome 4th division side Wormatia Worms despite a lacklustre performance from a strong starting eleven.

Italian manager Roberto Di Matteo took the decision to name a strong team against weak opponents Wormatia and has young winger Julian Draxler to thank for making sure an upset wasn't on the cards after the German midfielder grabbed a brace to help stake his claim in Di Matteo's first-team plans for the coming Nurnberg game. Di Matteo named a strong side including the likes of Benedikt Howedes, Roman Neustadter, Ibrahim Afellay and Christian Fuchs. Japanese full-back Uchida also made an appearance - depsite ongoing interest from Barclays Premier League club Arsenal.

Schalke took the lead just before half-time through a stunning Draxler hit which he struck with his first touch. Just moments before, stylish German midfielder Neustadter had hit the post - with winger Afellay latching onto the rebound and crossing for Draxler to smash home at the far post. At half-time, Dutch winger Ibrahim Afellay was taken off with a slight injury and was replaced by wing-back Pliatsikas. Midway through the second half, Draxler popped up with another vital goal to ensure minnows Wormatia had no way back into the game. A diagonal ball from left-back Christian Fuchs picked Brazilian striker Edu out in the box who headed across goal for Draxler to tap in. The young German winger has attracted interest from clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past few months and Italian manager Roberto Di Matteo will certainly have a tough task in keeping the midfielder at the Veltins-Arena as interest increases with performances such as that of today.

Following the win, the press once again questioned Di Matteo on the upcoming encounter with Nurnberg:

"I've took a deep look into Nurnberg in the past few weeks - discovering their weaknesses and strengths to make sure I have as much information available to me as possible so that my team has the best possible chance of a win when we host them. Several key players should be returning to training in the week ahead before the game and hopefully I can name a strong starting eleven to counter the dangers they possess. I'm very aware of their attacking strength in Japanese midfielder Kiyotake and winger Gebhart. I'll make sure my team is prepared and ready to battle it out with Nurnberg and hopefully pick up three points."

Schalke line-up:

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Substitutes: Unnerstall, Metzelder, Caillas, Kyei, Papadopoulos, Raffael, Huntelaar, Bastos, Farfan, Jones, Pliatsikas, Moritz.
Good story so far keep it up.

Loving the story ZeCarlos and looking forward to seeing what you do with the Hunter.

Nice start mate, confident of a good season? (H)

Thanks all for your comments! :)

Yeah, I'm pretty confident. A few competitive games with my tactics will surely set me up for a good season and I can hopefully still grasp a Europa League spot - Champions League is just out of reach I think however :(