Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

Branislav Ivanovic has called for a show of strength as we begin life under Roberto Di Matteo at Birmingham City tonight.

We head into tonight's FA Cup fifth round replay with just one day of training under the Italian following Andre Villas-Boas's departure on Sunday, with interim assistant Eddie Newton also joining the coaching staff yesterday.

Ivanovic, however, believes this is no time to be looking for excuses.

'It's a difficult situation, a difficult moment for everybody, and now we have to be strong and obviously try to win the games to change our situation,' said the Serbian defender.

'There is not a lot more to say at the moment, it is only hard work on the pitch that can help us to win the games.

'To win is the only thing for the Birmingham game. This is all we can speak about, there are no excuses, nothing we can say, the only thing we can do is win this game, it will be difficult because we missed the chance at home and they are a tough opponent away, in the FA Cup, a difficult competition, but we need to be ready and win the game.

'We need a big improvement but it's not time to speak about that, just to do a professional and proper job.'

The 28-year-old admitted the atmosphere at Cobham in the past couple of days has been testing, but added that he looks forward to working with the new staff as we seek progress in three competitions.

'We met Eddie yesterday and we can say good luck to him and hope it is a success, and we will know him better over the next few days and weeks,' he said.

'Always after some changes the atmosphere is different and unusual, but in a couple of days it should be okay. It is difficult to be positive but we have to be strong, it is what our job asks of us and we have to be professional. This means winning the games, which we have not been doing.'

With a win or bust FA Cup tie to start, there is no better time than to achieve a confidence-boosting victory.