x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

West Brom sack manager Roberto Di Matteo

Premier League side place coach on gardening leave following 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Roberto Di Matteo has left West Bromwich Albion
Roberto Di Matteo has left West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion fired manager Roberto Di Matteo on Sunday as they battle against relegation from the Premier League.

A 3-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday was West Brom's 13th defeat in 18 games in all competitions, leaving the team only two points above the drop zone.

The 40-year-old Di Matteo had been in charge for less than 20 months before West Brom announced on Sunday that he was being placed on "gardening leave".

"I was extremely surprised and disappointed to be relieved of my duties," Di Matteo said in a statement. "Playing in this league is tough and we have had to compete against some fantastic sides but we have shown that we can compete with the best.

"Apart from the first week of the season, the club has not been in the bottom three and has an important and crucial run of home fixtures coming up. I am disappointed that I don't now have the chance to lead the team through this crucial period and keep them in the league."

The former Italy midfielder was hired by West Brom in June 2009 and secured the team's instant return to the Premier League last May.

After losing two of their first nine league games, West Brom were a contender for Europa League qualification. But the team have won only three times since then and taken one point from their past three games.

"This has been a tough decision but we, as a board, believe it is the right one to give the club the best possible chance of remaining in the Premier League," West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace said in a statement. "Our poor sequence of results stretches back more than three months and there has been little sign of it coming to an end.

"If this run continues much longer, achieving our goal of retaining our Premier League status will become increasingly difficult. That is why we felt compelled to act now ... we are in a results-driven industry and felt we had no choice but to act now."

Assistant coach Michael Appleton will take over on an interim basis.

The former Chelsea player impressed in his first managerial job at MK Dons, guiding the team to the 2009 League One play-offs in his only season in charge before moving to West Brom.

"Roberto represents yet another victim of the 'hire and fire' mentality that pervades in our game," said Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the League Managers Association. "The club have big games ahead, against Wolves and West Ham, and you have to question the decision to sack the manager. It is in exactly situations like these that we all want to see clubs back the individuals they have employed rather than see the sack as a quick fix panacea."