S04 part company with Jens Keller – Roberto Di Matteo takes over

FC Schalke 04 have dismissed head coach Jens Keller with immediate effect. The Royal Blues have also parted company with assistant manager Peter Hermann and goalkeeping coach Holger Gehrke. The new head coach will be Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian, who won the Champions League and FA Cup with Chelsea in 2012, has agreed a deal until 30th June 2017.

These personnel changes are a result of a detailed analysis of the current sporting situation at the club. “The team’s performances in recent weeks have varied greatly. Even the positive tendencies such as seven points collected from the recent busy league schedule and the icing on the cake that was the derby win haven’t shown a lasting effect,” explained sporting director Horst Heldt. “We’re lacking the consistency needed in order to achieve our goals. That’s why we have decided to take this step.”

The sporting director added: “Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that Jens Keller has done good work over the last 22 months. He took over our club in a difficult situation back in December 2012 and led us to the group stages of the Champions League twice in a row, going on to reach the last 16 on both occasions. He has also helped talents from our youth academy make their step up to the Bundesliga. He deserves FC Schalke 04’s thanks for that.”

Keller’s successor will be Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian, who speaks six languages fluently, will take charge of the team for the first time in the upcoming home game against Hertha BSC on 18th October. “By changing the manager, we want to create new momentum,” said Heldt. “We’re utterly convinced that Roberto Di Matteo will stabilise the team and achieve our goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League.”

Roberto Di Matteo’s most recent managerial post was at Chelsea. The Italian won the Champions League with the Blues in May 2012, beating Bayern München 4-3 on penalties. The London club also beat favourites FC Barcelona in the semi-finals. On top of that, Di Matteo brought another FA Cup trophy to Stamford Bridge as well, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final.

The 44-year-old (born 29th May 1970) also had success during his previous managerial stints. His first job as a head coach came in summer 2008 at Milton Keynes Dons, who he established as a top side in the third tier of English football and narrowly missed out on promotion with.

In 2009, then second-division side West Bromwich Albion secured the Italian’s services. In his first season there, Di Matteo led West Brom to a second-placed finish and achieved promotion to the Premier League. He and the club parted ways in February 2011. Di Matteo joined Chelsea as assistant manager at the start of the 2011/12 season, but took over as head coach in March 2012 and spent a total of 15 months with the club.

During his playing career, Di Matteo had spells with Swiss clubs FC Schaffhausen (1988-1991), FC Zurich (1991-1992) and FC Aarau (1992-1993), before linking up with Lazio (1993-1996) and then Chelsea (1996-2002). The 34-times-capped Italy international’s most successful spell came in England. While with the Blues, the midfielder won two FA Cups (1997, 2000), the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1998), the UEFA Supercup (1998) and the English League Cup (1998).