The Bundesliga season wrapped up Saturday and Schalke not only found itself well outside the Champions League places, but they fell to relegation-threatened Hamburg 2-0 to help keep the victors from guaranteed relegation.
That appears to be the last straw, as the club has fired the Italian just the day after the season, according to reports by German publication BILD Sports.
With the club in third place in mid-February, the team took a nosedive, winning just three of its final 14 games and ending up well out of the race. Di Matteo’s sacking is still somewhat surprising, as it appears he will take the fall for a squad that is full of mistakes and holes. He’s only been in charge since October of 2014, when he replaced Jens Keller.
Di Matteo becomes the seventh manager fired by CEO Horst Heldt since taking over in 2010, a massive amount of employees come and gone for a club with Champions League aspirations.
The season was not all a failure. Di Matteo led the club to a Champions League Round of 16 matchup where they fell to Real Madrid 5-4 on aggregate despite a gripping 4-3 win in the second leg at the Bernabeu.
Unfortunately, the domestic failures were too much for Di Matteo to survive. There were some disastrous results down the stretch that led to this conclusion. Following a February 6 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach that left Schalke sitting in third place, the club slumped to failures such as a 1-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, a 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, a 0-0 draw with 19th-placed Augsburg, a 2-0 loss to 11th-placed FC Mainz, and a 2-0 loss to 12th-placed FC Koln.
The Italian, though, had plenty of roadblocks to over come and is not the only man to take a fall for the club’s collapse. Two weeks ago Heldt inexplicably suspended players Kevin Prince-Boateng and Sidney Sam for a “lack of mutual trust” following the defeat to Koln. Boateng has been known to have a short fuse that’s gotten him kicked off the Ghanan international team, but the move reeked of scapegoating. Julian Draxler, the club’s best young star, was injured for much of the season and was left to a substitute role down the stretch, leaving question marks over the ceiling of his potential. The team’s defensive star and captain Benedikt Howedes also played out of position on the right flank for much of 2015 as Di Matteo changed from a back three to a back four.
Despite the sacking, plenty of offers are likely to come Di Matteo’s way, and there will assuredly be a few from England as many still have his miracle workings at Chelsea fresh in their minds.