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Di Matteo takes crash course in Schalke

Roberto Di Matteo said he had "received a bunch of text messages" from former Chelsea FC colleagues as he met the press for the first time as FC Schalke 04 coach.

Roberto di Matteo is confident of Schalke's Group G prospects
Roberto di Matteo is confident of Schalke's Group G prospects ©Getty Images

Having been confirmed as FC Schalke 04's new coach yesterday, Roberto Di Matteo has been learning about all things Schalke in the last 24 hours, and is "optimistic" that with a few running repairs, he can lead his side through the UEFA Champions League group stage – even though it may take a win against his old side, Chelsea FC.

On his first impressions of Schalke…
My first impression is very positive and I'm very happy to be here. It's a great challenge. Schalke are a big club for me and I'm happy it's my new club. I have always been aware of what's going on in the Bundesliga, it's a fascinating league. I'm looking forward to my time here at Schalke. There are very passionate fans here and ambitions are always high.

On the team he has inherited…
Since coming here, I have tried to watch footage of all of the team's matches this season. That is a lot of football in the last 24 hours. I can see I have a really good team to work with. We have a lot of attacking power in the team but there were several defensive problems in recent games. I'm confident we can play good football for our fans. We'll have to find a balance between attack and defence. A solid defence is the basis of good attacking play.

On meeting Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League…
I don't really want to talk about one single match, since there are several more to come before that fixture. I will start thinking about Chelsea before that match, but it's no secret that I've been there as a player and coach for a long time, and it will be a special match. I have already received a bunch of text messages from Chelsea players and other people at the club.

Di Matteo has mugged up on Schalke
Di Matteo has mugged up on Schalke©Getty Images

On his time without a job…
I watched a lot of football and updated my skills in several areas. At first, I needed a break and didn't want to sign for anyone. Then I received offers which were not so interesting. Now I'm a coach again and really happy about this great challenge I'm facing here at Schalke.

On the players in the Schalke academy…
I'm eager to get young, talented players from the region into the first team. If I could, I would play with 11 players who were born here; that would be a dream. I know there is a lot of skilful youngsters at the club and I will give every player who is skilled enough a chance.

On the situation in Group G…
Chelsea are the favourites in our group. We are now facing two really important – maybe decisive – games against Sporting. Our goal is two wins and then we can see what's still possible. The knockout stage is definitely our main Champions League target and I'm optimistic we can reach it.