5 reasons why Di Matteo has got the Baggies boinging again by Will Mann
None of us saw it coming. Roberto Di Matteo had barely been mentioned in the press or even on fan forums as a possible candidate for the West Bromwich Albion manager — sorry, head coach — vacancy. But after his appointment, the initial shock and reservations have quickly subsided, and a warm feeling of optimism and cautious excitement has begun to build around B71. Here’s why:
- Charisma. Albion chairman Jeremy Peace, a man renowned for his cold analysis of facts and figures when making business decisions, was reportedly blown away by Di Matteo’s interview and admitted his decision had been based on “gut instinct”. It’s not hard to see why. With a chain of restaurants and an MBA to add to his glittering football career, this handsome Italian simply reeks of success.
- Respect. Winning goals in two FA Cup finals, honours at home and in Europe with Chelsea, 34 caps for Italy, appearances in the World Cup and Euro finals… Di Matteo has a playing career behind him that no player at Albion is ever likely to emulate. That kind of achievement counts when you address a squad of players on the training paddock.
- Contacts. The playing career outlined above will have given Di Matteo a bigger contact book than all the other managers shortlisted for the Albion job have got between them. That could be crucial in an era when quality loan signings are essential for any Championship — or indeed bottom half EPL — team.
- Philosophy. Ok, so we can’t read much into one semi-successful season with the MK Dons in League One. But his team were second highest scorers in England with 83 goals, kept the ball on the floor, and also knew how to shut games out, in true Italian style, boasting the second best defence in their league. Albion fans traumatised by a season of defensive howlers may come to appreciate that.
- Wardrobe. Tony Mowbray’s ‘jumper under suit jacket’ look was never going to appear on a cat walk. In contrast, Di Matteo could have been modelling for Versace when he took his first training session on Wednesday wearing fitted shirt and designer jeans. Italian cool has come to The Hawthorns.