Remember that time a coach was fired after earning his side promotion, yet he supported his former club's decision? Neither do I, so while Roberto di Matteo's reaction is worth a moment's consideration, our consideration should read his response as more obligatory than surprising. The former West Bromwich Albion manager, who earned the Baggies promotion from the Championship last season, has released a statement in the wake of his Sunday dismissal, and he's not happy:
"I was extremely surprised and disappointed to be relieved of my duties today.
"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 League Manager's Association, the group that released Di Matteo's statement, has also chimed in, as is their want. Again, the statement is predictable. After all, what's the LMA going to do? Express support that one of their own was sacked?
"Roberto represents yet another victim of the 'hire and fire' mentality that pervades in our game.
The question is whether that mentality is wrong. Perhaps it's just my set of observations, but I've noticed accountability tends to go up as stakes increase. Dropping out of the Premier League? Those are some stakes, stakes that are a lot more tangible than trite sayings with simplistic rhyme schemes (ones that evoke the techniques of a Sarah Palin speech writer).
That's not to say Roberto di Matteo deserved to be fired. West Brom is the epitome of a yo-yo club. And as of now, they're above the trough. Obviously, the club has determined Roberto di Matteo is not likely to keep them there, though it's a strange conclusion given a.) West Brom is not in the bottom three now, and b.) the only other evidence telling of di Matteo's capabilities saw West Brom earn promotion. When Tony Mowbray didn't make a play for survival until deep in the 2008-09 season, di Matteo's accomplishments still seem like progress.
That makes you believe something else may be at work. Maybe West Brom has been in contact with a manager they feel is better suited for a relegation scrap. Perhaps something's happened behind the scenes that has yet to come out (a disagreement born from transfer window chaos). Or, perhaps the club concluded change for its own sake was enough.
I would have liked to see what di Matteo could craft with Carlos Vela and Peter Odemwingie, but I'm not going to fret too much about Roberto. He'll be back in English football soon enough.