By Harry Sykes

Steve Clarke has been appointed caretaker manager of Aston Villa following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, it was announced on Monday morning.

The Midlands giants revealed on their official website that Di Matteo had been axed following the club’s poor start to the season.

Villa announced that Di Matteo’s right-hand man Clarke will take over as caretaker boss during the search for a new manager.

Clarke, who joined Villa in the summer when Di Matteo was appointed, has previously managed West Brom and Reading in addition to holding senior coaching roles at Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea and West Ham.

Villa chiefs revealed in a statement that they had decided to dismiss Di Matteo due to the team’s start to the season, in which they had won just once in 11 Championship matches – against Rotherham on 13 August.

Di Matteo’s fate was reportedly sealed on Saturday, when Villa slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Preston North End at the end of what was seen as a defining week for the manager.

“The club decided to act following a run of disappointing results which has the left the team occupying 19th position in the Championship,” the statement read on the official Villa website.

“The club would like to place on record its appreciation to Roberto for all his efforts in helping rebuild the squad and wish him well for the future.

“Steve Clarke will take over as caretaker manager during the search for a new manager. There will be no further comment from the Club.”

The Guardian claim the leading contenders to permanently replace Di Matteo are Steve Bruce and David Wagner, the manager of high-flying Huddersfield Town.

Bruce would bring with him experience of winning promotion from the Championship while Wagner has made a stunning impact since taking over at Huddersfield in November last year.

German Wagner has steered the Terriers to the top of the Championship table with 25 points from their opening 11 games.

Di Matteo enjoyed significant backing in the transfer market and spent more than £50m in the summer assembling a squad with a view to securing an immediate return to the Premier League after relegation last season.

In other Aston Villa news, supporters have reacted on Twitter to new Bruce rumours.