Newton demands passion from Blues
Eddie Newton demanded "passion" from Chelsea’s players after getting the shock call to join Roberto Di Matteo’s backroom staff.
Former Blues midfielder Newton revealed he was getting his children ready for school on Sunday night when caretaker manager Di Matteo offered him the chance to resume the working relationship they enjoyed at MK Dons and West Brom.
Newton told Chelsea TV: "Robbie and I had a little chat. I congratulated him on getting the position. He said, ‘I want you to come in’, and I said, ‘Okay’."
The man who spent almost a decade as a player at Stamford Bridge, scoring in the 1997 FA Cup final, added: "It has been very quick and quite emotional – everyone knows I love the club and am looking forward to giving my all."
Di Matteo and Newton’s first game in charge is Tuesday night’s FA Cup fifth-round replay at Birmingham.
The pair must motivate a squad who reportedly have no more affection for Di Matteo than for the sacked Andre Villas-Boas.
Newton said: "As soon as possible, I want to get stuck into the coaching, working individually with players, doing the whole shebang.
"If anybody wants to talk to me, I am there and let’s have a bit of passion going forwards."
Di Matteo and Newton have just over two months to save Chelsea’s season against a backdrop of what is already proving intense speculation about the identity of Villas-Boas’ long-term successor.
Reports suggest a tentative approach has already been made to Pep Guardiola, while a second coming for Jose Mourinho is also said to be a possibility.
Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, reportedly sounded out prior to Villas-Boas’ departure, last night gave a pretty good sales pitch while insisting a move to Stamford Bridge would not harm his relationship with Reds fans.
Quoted in The Guardian, he said: "Can anybody argue [against the fact] that the Liverpool fans love me? No.
"If we agree with this, what do you want for somebody who you love? The best for him. I cannot be waiting at home for five years. Everybody understands that I will need a job.
"If they want me to have the best, they can say you can manage a team at the bottom of the table or manage a team at the top of the table and try to win trophies. That is my idea, to have the option of a top side and try to win trophies. If they love me, they will understand.
"I have had two or three offers from clubs and one from a national team. I want to win trophies; it’s not just a case of wanting a job and having some money. It has to be something.
"They have now Roberto Di Matteo in [temporary] charge, and I have to respect the manager in charge. I have to wait and [see] if something happens in the future. As a manager with experience in the Champions League, in Spain and in Italy, I am open to offers."
Sven-Goran Eriksson, famously courted by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich when he was England manager, was not so coy despite being a rank outsider for the job
"I would take it, of course," he said, insisting he was not put off by Abramovich’s ruthless reputation. "I know him as a very nice man, very quiet. I met him 10 or 15 times for a cup of tea. For me, his passion is great.
"If he approached me, I would be pleased, but it’s not going to happen."
Ashley Cole is a doubt for Chelsea after hobbling out of Villas-Boas’ last match at the helm at West Brom on Saturday with an ankle injury.
Jose Bosingwa (hamstring) and Ross Turnbull (ankle) are both definitely out, along with captain John Terry (knee).
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton believes Villas-Boas was unfortunate not to get more time as Chelsea manager.
Hughton will not now get the chance to test himself against Villas-Boas for a second time in Tuesday’s FA Cup with Budweiser fifth-round replay at St Andrew’s, having contributed to the Portuguese’s downfall by leading Birmingham to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month.
Hughton feels the former Porto manager was not given enough time to stamp his mark on the Blues after just eight months in charge.
"I think it (eight months) is no time for a manager," said Hughton.
"It’s a club very much going through a transitional period and I felt he needed time to finish the job he wanted to complete.
"Is it embarrassing for Chelsea? It’s their choice on what percentage of managers they want to go through.
"I think these days we can be critical of foreign managers that don’t speak the language so well, but he is a real student of the game, he speaks English very well and has got his coaching qualifications on these shores.
"They obviously viewed him as someone for the future but, in that event, you have to give them time to develop.
"But, of course, at the top clubs that becomes difficult because the pressure is on results, the here and now. It is a real shame."
Reports of clashes with some of the club’s established stars helped undermine Villa-Boas’ position, a state of affairs that does not surprise Hughton.
"Player power is the wrong wording, (but) I can guarantee even the most experienced managers would have had phases where there was a bit of unrest in the changing room," he said.
"It’s normal when results are going well that it’s easier to keep people happy. When they are not, it’s different. When you hear about unrest in the changing room it’s when the team are not doing so well.
"You don’t expect to have a happy changing room when things are not going so well. He won’t have experienced anything different to any other manager at any time."
Hughton has poignant memories of Chelsea caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo, who was in charge of West Brom when a 3-1 win over Newcastle ended his spell in charge of the Magpies 15 months ago.
He said: "I know Roberto. My last game (at Newcastle) was played against West Brom. I wish him very well. He’s a very good football man and he has an opportunity there at Chelsea.
"I don’t know the ins and out. All I know is he has been given the responsibility and what he will look to do is get results in that period of time.
"He can’t change the players, he knows he will have them through until the end of the season and the reaction to him will be based on the results he gets.
"We all know that when there is a managerial change, there is a decent percentage of times when the results turn for the better. That is all he will hope for. He is a good Chelsea man."
Despite forcing a creditable draw in the first leg, Hughton knows his side will still be underdogs in the return clash.
"Irrespective of recent events, we are playing against a very good Chelsea team," added Hughton.
"We know and understand that to not lose to them once is tough, to not lose to them twice is even tougher.
"We know we are the underdogs but have to make sure we are organised like we were in the first game.
"But changes will be forced on me as we have a few injuries from the last game. At this particular moment I am not sure what my team is going to be."
Defenders Stephen Carr (knee) Steve Caldwell (ribs) and David Murphy (hip) are out, Peter Ramage is cup-tied and Curtis Davies is doubtful through illness.
In addition, midfielders Andros Townsend (cup-tied) and Keith Fahey (groin) are unavailable. Strikers Erik Huseklepp (cup-tied) and Caleb Folan (ineligible) also cannot face Chelsea.