Newton discusses origin and success of ‘loan army’ system
Former Chelsea assistant coach and loan technical coach Eddie Newton has lifted the lid on the vaunted – and infamous – Chelsea loan system that has long taken root at Stamford Bridge.
Newton – a multi-cup winner in the Blues midfield who spent nine seasons at the club – once oversaw the ‘loan army’ that continues to assemble in west London.
When speaking with Goal’s chief Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella, Newton first gave his thoughts on the origin of the clubs loan policy;
“It was up and running but it wasn’t a developed system. It was (ex-Chelsea technical director) Michael Emenalo’s brainchild basically. He brought me into his office and said, ‘Look, Rafa [Benitez] is a bit worried about having you because you were with the last manager (Roberto Di Matteo)’.
So I wasn’t going to be with him in the first-team, but he had another job for me to develop and run the loan programme. He said we had too many young players who were too good for the Under-23s, but not good enough for the first team.
The department began with just me and an analyst. We were working and going to watch games. Then, the list of players on my rota was getting too big and I couldn’t do it anymore.
We developed the feedback we gave players and improved our organization with other clubs. When Michael went, I would get involved in loan negotiations before it went onto Marina [Granovskaia]. It was something we built and that I was really proud of by the end.
We built a world-class programme that I know a lot of other people are copying today. A lot of clubs came to us and asked us for a little bit of help, we helped them up their game and that’s fine. You can only have the secret for a little bit!”
Regrets around three biggest names from the Chelsea system
Despite the veritable laundry list of players that have been put through the Chelsea loan programme and development system, three names stand above the rest; Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Mohamed Salah.
All three players failed to build long-term futures at Stamford Bridge, but the triumvirate eventually developed into the tip of the spear in their respective positions in time as their careers flourished elsewhere.
Newton wasted no time in mentioning player relationships with Jose Mourinho as a chief reason why both De Bruyne and Salah did not work out at Chelsea;
“For me, I think Salah and De Bruyne wasn’t about talent. It was a personality clash [with Jose Mourinho]. I just didn’t think it was working at the time.
I think they were more than good enough, but it was the manager who didn’t see eye-to-eye with them, so it wasn’t going to work.”
But Newton spoke different about why Lukaku had to wait seven years and score 177-goals across stints at Everton, Manchester United, and Inter Milan before finally getting his chance to be the main man at Chelsea;
“For Lukaku, he wasn’t ready at the time, and I don’t care what anyone says.
He just wasn’t ready to be the main No.9 up front and carry that platform like Didier [Drogba]. He was always going to be compared to Didier and it wasn’t fair to him at that time.
It was different situations for different players.”
For full quotes, click here.
This article was edited by Ben Browning.
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