The 46-year-old Italian spoke to the press on Wednesday alongside incoming owner Tony Xia for the first time since being named as the club's new manager earlier this month.
Di Matteo, 46, was speaking at his first official press conference since taking over at Villa Park earlier this month on a two-year deal, becoming new owner Tony Xia’s first managerial appointment.
The former Chelsea boss, who had been out of work since leaving Bundesliga side Schalke last summer, has tasted success in the Championship before after guiding West Bromwich Albion to promotion in 2010, but he now faces the biggest rebuilding job of his coaching career.
Villa finished bottom of the Premier League with just 17 points last season after a campaign marred by turgid displays, boardroom upheaval, fan protests and player unrest, leaving the Italian with plenty of work to do before the start of his first term in charge.
Xia has promised that he will have funds to spend this summer, with his budget understood to be around £35 million [h/t Daily Mail], but the former Champions League-winning manager has stressed that any incoming players must have the right character if they are to escape the second tier at the first time of asking.
“It’s a rebuilding job, isn’t it,” Di Matteo said at his press conference. “You look at the last three or four years, it’s a club that’s been in decline and was ultimately relegated last season.
“So I think we know that it’s going to be difficult. This team struggled very much in the Premier League last season so we’ll have to look at every aspect to try to build a strong, competitive team that can be good in the Championship.
“What I believe is that we need a united group. We need people that are willing to fight for each other and the club, and I think that’s the most important aspect – that they put their services for the good of the team. The job will be to find the right personal that bring those aspects and attributes to the club.
“It’s an exciting project and that’s one of the reasons I’m here as well. It’s a new start with a new ownership and new management team, so we’ll take it from there and try to do everything we can.”
Assisting Di Matteo will be his old Chelsea teammate Steve Clarke, who was named the Italian’s No. 2 last week in a move which was widely praised by both fans and the media alike.
As a manager, the former Scotland international guided West Brom to their highest-ever Premier League finish of eighth in 2013, while he also holds an excellent reputation as a coach thanks to his time working at Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham United and Liverpool.
Furthermore, he has recent experience of the Championship after managing Reading for 12 months until he was sacked last December, and Di Matteo believes the ex-defender’s know-how will prove vital to Villa over the course of the coming season.
“I looked at what kind of backroom staff I wanted and I’ve known Steve for 20 years,” the former Chelsea midfielder added at his press conference. “He’s been a coach and manager himself. He brings a wealth of experience and was a manager in the Championship, so he knows the division very well like me. It’ll suit us very well.
“The objective is obviously that we can get promotion this year. It’s going to take a bit of time to sort the team out. As you know in football, it’s a process. We also know that we want results today rather than tomorrow. That’s my job and I’ll do everything I can to try to get promotion.”