By Harry Sykes

Tony Xia has revealed on Twitter that it was a “difficult decision” for Aston Villa to axe Roberto Di Matteo after just 11 league games as manager.

But the Villa owner claimed it was important to act “soon rather than later” to avoid the club repeating the mistakes of the past.

The Midlands giants revealed on their official website on Monday morning 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.

Xia gave some fresh insight into the decision on his personal Twitter account soon after the official statement announcing Di Matteo’s exit.

Xia also insisted that the club still had a long-term plan in place despite ending the reign of Di Matteo so early.

Villa chiefs revealed in the 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.”

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.

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.

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