West Bromwich Albion have appointed Roberto Di Matteo as their new head coach.
The 39-year-old has signed a 12-month rolling contract to lead the Baggies, relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season, and who have been searching for a new manager after Tony Mowbray left for Celtic earlier this month.
Di Matteo arrives with just one year’s coaching experience under his belt after being appointed MK Dons manager last summer.
He enjoyed a successful first season in charge of the League One club as they missed a second consecutive automatic promotion by just two points before losing to Scunthorpe in the play-offs.
Albion chairman Jeremy Peace revealed Di Matteo’s appointment had been the unanimous choice of the board.
Preston North End boss Alan Irvine had also been shortlisted for the post with the Lancashire club’s chairman Derek Shaw admitting they had allowed their manager speak to the Baggies.
But signs Di Matteo had got the Baggies post increased when Preston released a statement today saying Irvine had decided to stay at North End.
“I am delighted with Roberto’s appointment, which concludes an intensive selection process during which over 40 names were considered,” Peace said in a statement tonight.
“We shortlisted two outstanding candidates, spoke to both of them after receiving permission from their clubs, and ultimately Roberto was the unanimous choice of the board.”
Eddie Newton and Ade Mafe follow Di Matteo to the Baggies to take up positions as assistant head coach and fitness coach respectively.
Di Matteo will immediately begin his work at The Hawthorns with the players due back for pre-season training tomorrow. That will mark the culmination of the quickly-negotiated deal, with MK Dons revealing tonight they had first fielded an approach from Albion on Monday.
“Following a formal request to speak to Roberto on Monday, we reluctantly allowed Albion officials to approach him with regard to the position,” a statement from MK Dons read. “Having enjoyed an extremely successful first season in Milton Keynes, his first managerial position, it came as little surprise that Robby’s undoubted qualities would prove attractive to a club at a higher level.
“While we are extremely disappointed to lose our manager so close to the pre-season, we recognise that the opportunity at the Hawthorns represents a big step forward in Robby’s career.
“We will now begin the process of appointing a new manager that can build on the success of recent seasons and continue to take the club forward.”
His overall record with The Dons was 27 wins, 11 draws and 14 defeats..