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Hughton expects Chelsea backlash

Birmingham City boss Chris Hughton can empathise with sacked Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, but has warned his players to expect a Blues backlash in their FA Cup fifth round replay.

Chelsea travel to St Andrew's with caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo taking charge of the side for the first time, and Hughton is wary of the reaction of the Chelsea players to the departure of their eighth manager since Roman Abramovich arrived at the club.

"When there is a managerial change, there is a decent per cent of times when the results turn for the better," said Hughton. "You generally see a reaction from the players when they try to up their game. That is all Roberto will hope for. He is a good Chelsea man and I'm sure he'll get the right staff around him."

Hughton also added his sympathy for Di Matteo's predecessor Villas-Boas who parted company with Chelsea on Sunday following a 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, having been dismissed in similar circumstances at Newcastle.

The former Spurs and West Ham defender led the Magpies back to the Premier League in 2010, only to be dismissed four months into the season with the side in mid-table after a 3-1 defeat to West Brom, managed at the time by Di Matteo.

And Hughton believes patience for young managers is sorely lacking in the modern game.

"I felt he [Villas-Boas] needed time to finish the job he wanted to complete and I was saddened to hear the news," said Hughton. "The days of when Sir Alex Ferguson could wait nearly four years to win his first trophy at Manchester United are well and truly gone I think. The biggest change in the game now is that it's a different sort of owner at football clubs.

"The days of the family involvement, a family board who wouldn't get involved on the football side very much, who gave the manager time, have gone. The owner is very much involved, a financial involvement and the club is run more as a business these days.

"I think the pressure from the media is greater than it has ever been. The game has changed. There is more pressure on everybody and it's a far cry from how it used to be.

"The fact your professional pride has been dented, that's probably the biggest area, the biggest hurt. He will be hurting. He's used to going into work every day and the fact he's embarked on a project and 70% through that first season has lost his position will hurt.

"At this stage, his managerial career has taken a real backward step because of what's happened. It's very much up to him to resurrect that. He's young enough, he's certainly got the credentials. He wouldn't have got as big as job as he did without having pedigree."

Birmingham are up against it in spite of the disarray at Stamford Bridge, with Hughton's side decimated by injuries and ineligible players, but after holding the Blues to a 1-1 draw in London he is eyeing a morale-boosting upset.

"We have got quite a few injury problems but I have no doubt we will field a very committed team and you just hope to get that little bit of fortune."


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