Paulo Ferreira Q&A: Academy coach on Chelsea's loan system, Antonio Conte's impact & more

simon johnson
Evening Standard
Experienced | The former full-back is a two-time Champions League winner with Porto and Chelsea: Pete Norton/Getty Images
Experienced | The former full-back is a two-time Champions League winner with Porto and Chelsea: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Paulo Ferreira won an impressive nine major trophies over a nine-year spell as a player at Chelsea, but now he has a different challenge.

After retiring in 2013, the former full-back was first named as a club ambassador before being asked to become an assistant to loan player technical coach Eddie Newton, who also played for the Blues.

Chelsea's loan system has attracted a lot of scrutiny and criticism. Currently, 38 of their players are plying their trade away from Stamford Bridge on a temporary basis and Ferreira's task is to assist and monitor a group of them while they are away.

Standard Sport sat down with Ferreira and asked him for his views on how things are going.

You had a great career as a player. How are you finding the new role in the backroom staff?

It's a bit different but, as a player, I was always helping the young boys when they were coming from the Academy and we needed them to make up the numbers in senior sessions.

I was always encouraging them and how important it was for them. I know how difficult it is at that age and some of them were coming over really shy, were afraid to hurt someone or really go for a tackle.

I was always telling them to be themselves, to not be afraid, to express themselves. If they were going for a tackle, I said they have to be as hard as they can be. It shouldn't matter if it's me, John Terry or Frank Lampard, you go.

If you hurt someone, apologise and keep going because they won't be nice to you. I was basically a mentor so when I received an invitation to help Eddie Newton, it was a pleasure. He was working alone at the time with the loan players and I didn't realise we had so many players out on loan.

What's your role on a weekly basis?

The loan players are looked after between Eddie, myself and Joe Edwards. We split the group in between us and follow the players allotted to us. It could be here in the UK or abroad.

The ones you look after could depend on the position they play in or the language. Eddie was the one who started this and has the most experience. He takes players from certain clubs and also the ones he is comfortable with and has followed more.

I have a few players that I was working with last season and some of the new ones.

Chelsea are criticised for how they use the loan system - are they right to do this? Does it work?

It's difficult to answer this question. Whether it is 30, 40, 50, 60 players, this is what the club has and we just have to give our best to support the players as much as we can.

We know that not all of the players will come into the first team, but we know there are a few that will have that chance and we have to keep pushing everyone. Some of the players that were in the loan system have now moved to professional clubs and are having their own careers.

We are happy that we were there to help and were involved in their careers. This is what we do as the numbers go up or down.

Eddie, Joe and I just have to help the boys do well and keep pushing them.

How close is the head coach Antonio Conte following what you're doing - is he talking to you regularly?

We see each other, but at the moment the first team is the most important. We are reaching a stage of the season where he has to be really focussed on the first team.

He knows about all of the loan players and you can see he is prepared to give people a chance. For example, Nathaniel Chalobah, who was on loan last season, is now in the squad.

That's really good and is exactly what we want. We want to push the players that are out on loan to do well so that in the future they come back to the club.

When you speak to the youngsters, they must be desperate to play under Conte?

What Antonio is doing in his first season is fantastic. Obviously, for the young players in the first team squad that work with him now every day, it is much easier because they know what he wants and it's easy.

But we try to help the loan players and make sure they know what is happening with the first team. The decisions over whether they come back to the squad are not ours to make. We have to just help them be ready if the manager decides that he wants one of them.

(Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Paulo will be hosting an exclusive screening of the Manchester United v Chelsea match this Sunday in the Carabao Energy Drink’s Legends Lounge. To win a seat and watch the game with Paulo, visit @CarabaoUK for more details

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