LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich of failing to show loyalty to Roberto di Matteo after the Italian was sacked just months after winning the Champions League.
Abramovich displayed his ruthless side once again on Wednesday as he axed di Matteo following a poor recent run that saw the Blues surrender their position on top of the Premier League and left them in severe danger of failing to reach the Champions League knockout stages.
But the decision surprised and saddened Wenger, who claimed di Matteo deserved more time to get things back on track after leading Chelsea to their first ever Champions League triumph, as well as winning the FA Cup, during his spell as caretaker boss last season.
“I find it surprising and very sad personally. I believe it is important on our side to show loyalty,” Wenger said after his side’s 2-0 Champions League win over Montpellier on Wednesday.
“Di Matteo came in in a difficult situation and won the Champions League and FA Cup.
“He did well and there wasn’t even any time this season. It is a complete surprise and very sad news.”
Wenger was also surprised Rafael Benitez agreed to replace di Matteo on a short-term contract.
Benitez was appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager just hours after Abramovich sacked di Matteo following Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Juventus.
But the former Liverpool, Inter Milan and Valencia coach is in charge only until the end of the season and Wenger believes a manager with his CV should have been looking for a permanent deal.
“It is a surprise as well. Benitez is a guy with a good record and a manager of stature,” Wenger said.
“It is a surprise he is appointed for such a short time and I’m surprised he accepted it.”