Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

pl-stage-jose-mourinho

Here at Chelsea Headache, we love to welcome guest writers to express their thoughts on Chelsea. Today, we have the great opportunity to host the opinions of a certain @ChelseaRumours:

Thursday, 20th September 2007.

This was the day the world woke up to the news, that José Mourinho and Chelsea had parted company. Having won back-to-back titles, the 2nd and 3rd championships in the club’s history, Mourinho had already cemented a special place in Chelsea supporters’ hearts. However, an indifferent start to the 2007/2008 season that culminated in successive home draws against Blackburn Rovers and Rosenborg became the end of Mourinho’s era at Chelsea. It was to become the start of a season of heartbreaks, as we lost the league cup final to Tottenham in extra time, and then the lowest point in recent Chelsea history – losing to United on penalties, after John Terry slipped and hit the post.

Since, we have enjoyed mixed fortunes and under several different managers. Avram Grant took over immediately after José, but was never seen as a long-term solution by anybody. He was fired immediately after Chelsea’s champions league final defeat.

When Scolari was appointed in July 2008, hopes were again high at Stamford Bridge – but some zonal-marking later and we were managerless once again. Guus Hiddink took over, a favour for his old pal Roman Abramovich, and it was public knowledge that he would only be in charge for the rest of season. He did fantastically well in his brief period as manager, and by the end of his reign, many fans were wishing he would stay. A win % of 73 says it all, just one defeat in his 22 games in charge – and as all Chelsea fans will remember, the win percentage would’ve been even higher had a Mr. Øvrebø not decided to forget to put on his contact lenses when we faced Barcelona at the bridge. (Barcelona then played United off the pitch in the final, and that left all Chelsea fans wondering what might’ve been…) Never the less, Hiddink won us the FA Cup and left with his head held high.

Then came Ancelotti – and boy did we turn on the style in 2009/2010! 103 league goals, one FA Cup and one Premier League title later, and we’d won the first double in the club’s history. However, Ancelotti’s reign came to an end after a trophyless 2nd season, where a winter slump essentially cost us the title – we very nearly won it in the 36th round when we faced United at Old Trafford, but they ran out 2-1 winners and more or less secured the title that day. Fans and pundits alike were outraged when the news broke that Carlo had been fired – and looking back at the 2 seasons that have followed, it probably was a big mistake.

André Villas-Boas was the hottest manager name in the game when we appointed him, but some dreadful man-management skills and drastic tactics soon meant that he was unemployed again. His assistant Roberto Di Matteo, already a name known to the Chelsea supporters of course, took over – and we all know what the lead to. FA Cup glory and a Champions League won through shere determination against opponents who had far better players than us saw Roberto being offered a 2-year contract, which he signed. However, people were already saying that he was just a short-term solution before Abramovich could get his preferred manager in: Pep Guardiola. It proved to be a very short term solution, as we crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages and suffered a few poor results in the Premier League… things seemed bleak…

And then Rafa took over. As much as Chelsea fans unite in glory, here they united in rage. Some went as far as to saying that it was the worst possible replacement for a club legend – and many agreed. Results such as 0-1 at home to QPR and throwing away a 2-goal lead at Reading didn’t help Rafa convince the supporters that he was the right man for the job either, however a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford proved to be the turning point in our season – a few good results later, and Champions League participation as well as the Europa League trophy had been secured. Rafa left, and fans were now wondering who would take charge at the Bridge.

We were all hoping.

We were all dreaming.

But when it finally happened, we couldn’t really believe it. José Mourinho, the man who left Stamford Bridge on that Thursday in September 2007 had returned.

“I had in my career two great passions, Inter and Chelsea, and Chelsea is more than important for me. It was very, very hard to play against Chelsea and I did it only twice which was not so bad so now I promise exactly the same things I promised in 2004, with this difference which is I’m one of you.” – José Mourinho’s first interview during his second reign as Chelsea manager.

In many ways, Mourinho put more effort into this interview than he needed – he had us at ”I’m very happy.” – he’d continue his winning form at Chelsea by winning 2 italian titles with Inter as well as the Champions League, before winning the Copa del Rey and La Liga with Real Madrid. We’ve never doubted his managerial skills, and when Chelsea finally announced his return, my Twitter timeline exploded with happy tweets… After such a season with a manager like Benitez, it’s difficult to remember the last time we’ve all been this happy. (19/05/12)

Furthermore, Mourinho has stated that he’s in it for the long haul this time around. He says he’s much more mature, ready for a different kind of long-term project, where his previous clubs have mostly been about achieving immediate success – which, granted, he has done.

This new project includes establishing a confidence in the young players we have in our squad, a confidence that will see them achieve great things – which talents like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Lukaku as well as our youth players (Chalobah, Baker, Piazon, Aké and Loftus-Cheek spring to mind) are destined for. We might not see immediate success, but at the same time we are only one or two additions away from having a squad that is ready to challenge at the highest level – and I’m sure Mourinho has some players in mind.

Some of the big dilemmas he’ll face though, is whether to keep the likes of Petr Cech and Frank Lampard in our first XI, or whether to replace them with the huge talents that are Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. While it is always hard enough to just say goodbye to legends like these, they might also be an important part of Mourinho’s plans in terms of the balance of experience and young talent – and it is no secret that these two as well as Terry and Ashley Cole are great friends with Mourinho, and could be vital for him to obtain a ”daddy” status (as Essien has labelled him) for some of our newer additions to the squad who aren’t familiar with José and his training methods.

Additionally there is the question of whether we need to sign another striker, with a big money move for Edinson Cavani being discussed. Romelu Lukaku has publically stated that he’d prefer to be loaned out if we do sign Cavani, as he fears he wouldn’t play frequently. Admittedly at his age, minutes on the pitch are a necessity, and Mourinho must decide if he trusts him to be our first choice striker (or whether Demba Ba or Fernando Torres are good enough for that!)

With André Schürrle all but one foot in Chelsea, maybe Mourinho will think of that as enough goal-scoring talent in the squad, with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard regularly hitting the back of the net – not to mention our defence who scored 27 goals this season, a quite spectacular amount of goals!

Mourinho will have many tasks to face as Chelsea manager, but he is up for the challenge – in fact he stated in his first interview that ”he wishes they’d start tomorrow.” while recognising the fact that the players obviously need a holiday. He’s determined, he’s got a plan and he’s at home here, so why shouldn’t it work out? It will most likely be a different story, but he has already said that himself as well – this is a new project, hopefully a long term one. Ultimately, this is what all Chelsea fans wanted to hear, many have screamed out for stability since Mourinho’s first reign as Chelsea manager, and is there anyone we’d rather have in charge of a long-term project Chelsea than The Special One? I doubt it.

He is one of us.

*This post was written a week or so ago so some topics such as Schürrle signing have now developed

Mourinho – What We Can Expect

Posted: June 20, 2013 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, Guest, mourinho, Preview, Transfers, Youth

José Mourinho is back. Four words that mean the world to (most, if not all) Chelsea fans. He’s back, alive and kicking. Is anybody disappointed by his appointment? I think not. Truly wonderful, delightful news.

Mourinho has already excited us before stepping out into the dugout, even possibly before meeting some of the newer players who weren’t around in his previous stint, just because it’s him. The icing on the cake after his arrival was the Chelsea TV interview that accompanied the news. He is “very happy” to be back. “It was an easy decision to make” for him. “I’m one of you.” And perhaps, the best quote of the lot was when he explained he is ready to “be in a club and stay for a long time.” What is there to not like about all that? He’s certainly saying the right things. Can he put them into practice?

So, what does Mourinho mean to us? Well, I took to Twitter recently to pose that question, a one word summary if you will, and this is what was said:

[José Mourinho is] special, bolshy, resurrected, unbeatable, panache, unique, charismatic, brilliant, mentor, pioneer, class, genius, king, boss, perfect, blue, outspoken, humorous, master, accomplished, matured, outspoken, thorough, unforgettable, sly, absorbing, winner, unrelenting, defining, motivator, homely, Daddy, notRafa (ha), alien (?) and God. That just about covers it all really. (How would you describe him? Let us know below. Thanks to all who participated)

Chelsea Headache are also very privileged to welcome the views of some guest writers today regarding Mourinho’s return:

@ChelseaActivity: It was a fairytale with a sore ending last time around, but Mourinho has returned, making the huge statement that is, “I am one of you”.

Lots have changed since 2007 for both parties – Mourinho has returned a more mature, experienced manager than the fresh-faced, ‘arrogant’ and ‘Special One’ he was before, although I’m sure he’s still special. While the club hasn’t just settled for what they had, Chelsea’s facilities have evolved, the youth team is stronger than ever, producing some of the best talent and they’ve even upgraded their silverware collection in recent years.

Although what hasn’t changed is the world-class ability Mourinho has as a manager, and that is something Chelsea haven’t had (arguably) since the brief days of Carlo Ancelotti.

For this time around to work, Mourinho needs to be given time in order to succeed in abundance. The players need stability and the club needs to afford ‘The Special One’ more time, and not jump to conclusions after a string of bad results.

José is an honest man, and when he makes a statement, he often follows through with it – he nodded and approved bringing through homegrown players. He’s learned a lot in 6 years, and so have the club, which is why I think those asking for players produced by the club to be given more opportunities, will have something to smile about in the future. And those just wanting silverware…I’m pretty sure you’ll have something to smile about, too.

@ChelseaChadder: Brash, confident, cocky, arrogant and special. All words most people would associate with the new Chelsea manager. However, will it be the same the second time round? My feelings are they won’t.
 
I believe Jose Mourinho has matured. He is still as confident as ever although seeks a new challenge. Can he guide the blues back to Premier League glory in the next couple of years? Of course he could with the aid of Roman’s money, but I don’t think that’s his intrinsic motivation. My feeling is that he wants to build a club, a future and a legacy for CFC, one to rival the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. Surely that has to be the new goal of the ‘Special One’.

@ChelseaAnalysis: Jose Mourinho is the best manager on all levels for the club, the fans and the players. He has instantly unified the club and repaired the broken interindividual bonds/connections that have formed as a result of the suffering the club had gone through over the past half-a-dozen years since his abrupt and sudden departure which left Chelsea in a state of insecurity and managerial instability. His appointment restores the club a sense of security and provides it with a massive morale and confidence boost, from the fans, to the players, to the higher positions in the board. Jose seems to be extremely delighted and genuinely chuffed to be back in a job that was always his, in his opinion at least, and the reasons for that are clear; he’s back home, a place where, above anything else, he is loved and respected. There’s a feeling that this job, and the size and nature of it, is only, and always was, for one man – him. He has an excellent relationship with the fans which he had earned during his first time in charge, as he has with the players. As a result of the past he has with the club, this time he steps into his managerial position not only as a man willing to prove himself and do what he is asked or paid to do, but also, more maturely, as a fan of the club itself which ensures that he will be performing his job with pure passion, devotion and determination as well as the desire for success, with the club’s best interests at heart.

He is a man driven by his winning mentality and valuable experience and will provide his players with the motivation and fighting spirit needed to achieve success. A wise man as himself is fully aware of the new modern approach he has to adopt this time with regards to a young squad and will give each player a specific role in the team and the chance he deserves, nurturing talents and guiding the young stars through progress and development for the future and aiming for long-term sustainability and stability upon which all of that is based. He knows the club perfectly and is tactically astute by nature and has been given all kinds of top resources to proceed with along with the guarantee for more to build a world class complete team. Jose Mourinho is tireless and very demanding of himself, which fits perfectly with the club’s ambition and constant high-standard demands of success; he’s part of the club and will build a dynasty into the future.

@TekkaBooSon: I have to say, in the months leading up to us announcing a new boss, I didn’t want Jose back at Chelsea. At least, not during this forever on-going ‘transitional’ period we seem to have been in since about 2009. I had reserved judgement on whether Jose was the right man for the job, especially as I think our priority now should be bringing through talented youth players like Josh McEachran (who everyone who follows me knows I am a huge fan of), Nathaniel Chalobah and the talented youth we have out on-loan like Courtois, De Bruyne and Lukaku. I also questioned how long he would be in charge for, as the last thing we need is another managerial change in 2 seasons. We need stability; something we haven’t had since Jose was in charge (albeit only for 3 seasons or so..).

Despite all these doubts and reservations, I am absolutely delighted to have Jose Mourinho back as our manager. It feels like it’s Chelsea again and it’s the most optimistic I’ve been about our future since AV-B took charge. I must admit I haven’t been a fan of any of our managers excluding AV-B since Jose left; Ancelotti was a yes man and a pushover, Di Matteo was tactically inept, I didn’t see a future with Scolari and Grant and Hiddink were obviously always going to be short-term appointments. I am looking forward to enjoying wins again, as opposed to under Benitez where I struggled to even watch our games.

Since Jose has taken charge, he has been saying all the right things; he seems to want to develop the young players we already have rather than spending big like he has done previously. I’ve read numerous quotes suggesting he wants to build a legacy here and stay for a long time, though to be honest I’d be very happy with 5 years with Jose at the helm.

To sum up, I cannot wait for next season. I can’t wait to be able to enjoy watching my Chelsea again, and I fully believe this next era at our beloved club will be the best yet.

Mourinho has returned, and Chelsea are back!

I think it’s fair to say, we are all somewhat buzzing about all this Mourinho stuff. The possibilities for development seem unlimited with potential and riddled with success. This time next season, Chelsea will be a somewhat different team.
Thanks to all the guest writers for their time and opinions for this post. For the record, some opinions were written before Mourinho’s interview on 10th June 2013.
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How are you feeling about Mourinho being back? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Wonderful Times To Be A Chelsea Supporter

Posted: August 27, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Random, Strikers, Torres, Transfers, Youth

I don’t know about you but I am extremely excited at all these signings Chelsea have made recently. Marin, Hazard(s), Oscar, Moses and Azpilicueta. Not a bad bunch to sign in one transfer window.

With the added inclusion of Ryan Bertrand who seems to be enjoying more minutes in the first team as of late, a creative but potentially tired Mata (at the moment) and a reignited Torres, things at Chelsea seem to be taking a really good turn for the best. There are so many classy players to name that I would be here all day trying to describe them in the best manner possible.
Where to start then. Well, first of all I’m over the moon that Torres is showing everyone what damage he can really do with the right players behind him. Hazard has connected with Torres almost instantly and they seem like the making of a truly deadly duo.

There are murmers that Mata will be rested for a few games soon after playing a bit of football at Euro 2012 and the Olympics. This is no bad thing. I love Mata but this will give Oscar the perfect platform to slide into the side and, like Torres, show the world what a talent he is.
When Mata returns, there will be big competition for places in the team. Again, no bad thing. We’ve got players of a high calibre who will be battling it out amongst each other to be in the side; Ramires, Mata, Marin, Hazard, Sturridge, Torres, Oscar, Lampard, Mikel, Meireles, Essien, Romeu, Moses and, if they stick around, Malouda and Benayoun too. So much brilliance. All these players will be needed as there are a lot of trophies to be fought for in this season like the Club World Cup and the Supercup on Friday.

What do the new signings show? They indicate that either/both manager and owner are fully backing Torres as the main man to lead Chelsea’s front line. This apparent support from the hierarchy has brushed off on Fernando. Just have a look at his recent performances for evidence.

If all this isn’t enough we also have McEachran and Lukaku on loan in the meantime. Lukaku scored on his debut against Liverpool – nice way to bow into the West Bromwich Albion team. Middlesbrough fans are holding McEachran in high regard as he too impressed on his debut and was seen as an integral player for their win over Burnley recently.
I’m excited about our prospects this season. Are you?

Dead Ends

Posted: June 6, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, loan, Rants, Rumours, Youth

I can’t remember the last time I blogged.

It was before Chelsea won the Champions League, before Drogba announced he’d be leaving us, before Hazard proclaimed he’d be joining us but soon after Di Matteo took over as “caretaker”.

Anyway, what I’m about to write, some will undoubtedly hate, but try and bare with me.

Over 5 years ago, a boy made his debut for Chelsea. Fans had high hopes for him. Would he be the new big thing in England? The answer, at that time, was no; he suffered a career ending injury and was forced to retire at an early age.

He kept working, he kept training, he kept his head in the door at Chelsea and would you believe it…he played in the first team again this season after coming out of retirement on the back of some reserve team appearances. Now that boy is a man. And that man is Sam Hutchinson.

So picture this. There are two “first team” right backs at the club: Ivanovic and Bosingwa. One leaves, meaning there is a potential gap in the squad for another. For Hutchinson? For Kane?

Or for Van der Wiel?

Maybe just rumours, but I was slightly disheartened to hear we are linked with VdW. Not because I think he’s at all a bad player but because if he was signed, Hutchinson/Kane are back down the pecking order again.

There is simply no faith in the youth system.

It is of course highly difficult to blood in youth when the manager is under serious observation from those watching above. But, in Di Matteo, have we finally found someone with the guts to try, test and experiment with one of the best youth systems in the world? Why else would he give Ryan Bertrand his Champions League debut in the final?

Don’t even get me started on Kakuta and Borini.

I find it unfair on youngsters who are not even given a proper chance in the first team and are shipped away on the loan express first class to eternal doom.

Hutchinson came out of retirement! That’s how much he wants to succeed. Surely it won’t hurt too much to give him a game here and there?

Bertrand may have played a considerable amount more than other youths this season in the first team but will he get the same chances next season if a new manager is employed?

I’m creating more questions than answers here, but it’s important to step back and think.

Chalobah, Hutchinson, Kane, McEachran, Kakuta, Piazon, Feruz, Lukaku – will these players ever get decent opportunities in the first team?

Rant over…for now.

Chelsea have predominantly used a 4-3-3 formation since Roman took the club over in 2003. It seems that is the preferred system of the board, something I would have my doubts about. I believe the board would be happy to see any system as long as it produced winning and stylish football. The truth is, football evolves and with that so does tactics and formations.
For a long time in English football nobody dared venture away from the tried and trusted 4-4-2. In the early noughties we saw a transition to 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1 depending on which team deployed it). We are now seeing an adoption to 4-2-3-1 and even recently to a back three, used by Barcelona and to our detriment, Napoli.
It seems there are innovators in the game and we all wait to see what they do first before a surge of followers replicate. In fact, Chelsea were innovators under Jose and our mind bending 4-3-3 was adopted by almost every team in the Premiership, if not Europe!
Now is the time for change again, and not just because the 4-3-3 is becoming obsolete (I actually don’t think a formation can become so) but because we simply do not possess the tools to adequately adopt the formation. 4-3-3 is very width dependant and we simply don’t have enough effective wingers, and we’re even going as far as playing 2 players out of position on the wings in Mata and Sturridge. Here’s what I propose:
I ultimately would like to see us adopt an exciting and wide 4-2-3-1 formation with Mata central behind our striker and two fast and direct wingers out wide. But, as I said, we don’t have that option right now so I think between now and the end of the season we should go with 4-diamond-2. It fits; we can play our strongest players and we can finally get more support up to out striker which has cut an isolated figure all season by adding another man up there to help him with the workload and a number 10 behind to create the chances.
Anyone that says Torres and Drogba can’t play together are completely wrong. It’s a media fuelled fantasy and I would love to see them prove the red-tops wrong. It also will give more opportunities to Sturridge to play centrally and maybe even an extra couple of games to Lukaku.
If you need convincing just look at the layout below and how our players fit at present:

GK

Cech

RB

Ivanovic

CB

Luiz

Or

Cahill

CB

JT

LB

Cole

DM

Essien

Or

Romeu/Mikel

CM

Lampard

CM

Ramires

AM

Mata

Or

Meireles

ST

Torres

Or

Sturridge

ST

Drogba

Or

Lukaku

You may say we lack width with this formation and you’d be correct but haven’t we done so all season anyway? At least with this formation we can properly protect our back four by consolidating midfield and we also see our best players play in their natural positions. I also believe Ashley Cole and Ivanovic offer a decent outlet out wide when we need that.
Bring on the summer, and bring on some wide players and we can switch to a 4-2-3-1. De Bruyne (hopefully) and Kakuta will be back, and we will no doubt see some additions covering those positions also.
What do you think?
Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

Lukaku Ponders Summer Loan Move

Posted: January 16, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, loan, Rumours, Transfers, Youth

Romelu Lukaku is keen to get more playing time with Chelsea and has revealed he would be open to a loan move if the opportunity arose to improve his long terms chances in the first team.

“If my situation at Chelsea does not evolve between now and the end of the season, it may be better to be loaned out for a season.”

The only problem is that because Lukaku has already played for two clubs this season, he would not be able to join another club on loan until the summer transfer window arrives. So, he is keen to plan ahead, something I think is very admirable – it’s clear he wants to succeed:

“A loan this season is not possible, as I have already played for two different clubs (but) if this situation endures, it might be better to play for another club for a year and then come back.”

Lukaku has featured only seven times for Chelsea since his move from Anderlecht but hopefully he will get some chances while Drogba and Kalou are on duty with the Ivory Coast at the AFCON. Fingers crossed.

@GaryCRobertson

Mmmm…what’s going on here?

Posted: September 17, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, midfield, Random, Youth

McEachran, Malouda, Meireles, Mikel, Mata, Michael (Essien?).

What do these players all have in common? Aside from each of them currently playing for Chelsea? Yes, they are all midfielders with names beginning with ‘M’ (you can probably tell I’m short on writing ideas!).

Magic, majestic, marvellous, magnificent. They are all ‘mazing in their own special manner:

McEachranmature: Josh has shown great awareness and near perfection when called upon to feature in the first team with minimal fuss.

Maloudamusical: There was a lot talk last year about Flo and Drogba forming a band with Terry and Joe Cole as the singers. Not sure what happened to it but maybe we’ll be hearing them on Radio 1 before long.

Meirelesmohawk: Isn’t it obvious? The Portugeezer has the hair of a punk and the tattoos of Michael Scofield. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Raul owned a motorbike too.

Mikel – mischievous: There’s something about his smile that gives the impression that he’s a right ol’ joker. Maybe it’s just me who thinks this?

Mataminted: An overall, utterly, indescribable man. I think he’s some sort of long lost son of Villas-Boas.

Michael (Essien) – mammoth: His surname begins with ‘E’ but it’s difficult to miss out the bison. Massively unfortunate and unlucky through strings of injury but a mammoth nonetheless.

Other fairly recent (m)idfielders:

  • Makelele (retired)
  • Mancienne (Hamburg)
  • Matic (Benfica; part of the David Luiz deal)
  • Mineiro (TuS Koblenz)
  • Morris (St Johnstone)
At this point, you may be wondering to yourself, what was point in reading this? All I can think of is you were (m)onotonously bored.  Who knows, maybe it will remain in your (m)emory for years to come?
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If you liked this, you can follow me on Twitter @GaryCRobertson. And if you didn’t like it, you can still follow me if you want.

Midfield Options

Posted: August 30, 2011 by callummaclean in Chelsea, midfield, Transfers, Youth

Over the summer, the main subject of Chelsea Football Club’s rumours have been linked to Luka Modrić and various other midfielders, such as Samir Nasri, Scott Parker, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to name a few. The general consensus is that Chelsea need a midfielder to create, but do they?

Looking at their current squad, it wouldn’t seem as if they do. The first team boasts many midfielders already; Florent Malouda, John Obi Mikel, Yossi Benayoun, Frank Lampard, Ramires and Michael Essien, although he’s out until the new year.

When Essien’s back at full fitness, which hopefully will happen, he is unstoppable. Nicknamed ‘the Bison’ for his strength, his other qualities include simple passes to build up play, box-to-box running and the ability to score some cracking goals.

Ramires, since Christmas, has really started to prove his worth with tough tackling, strength and stamina. He’s also been making his way through defences with some mazy runs too.

Mikel, although not a play-maker, is another top midfielder, with tackling abilities and the ability to keep a cool head, as has been shown recently, making himself available for Chelsea despite the kidnapping of his father.

Malouda, who is usually a winger can operate as a midfielder too. Top scorer for The Blues last season, and also having an ability to assist. His form varies throughout the season however, and many think this could be his last season at the club.

There’s also Yossi Benayoun, who in pre-season, has looked like he has a point to prove after missing most of last season due to a ruptured achilles that he suffered last September. Many believe he is the key to Fernando Torres’ form, and it’ll be interesting to see how much game time he gets this season. However, at 31, his time at Stamford Bridge may be limited.

Frank Lampard. Before last season, he had scored 20 goals or more for both club and country for the seven seasons previous to it. Even last season he still managed 15 goals. A slow start to pre-season, but if he can recreate the form of any of the past eight seasons Chelsea will be on for their fourth Premier League title, though as with Benayoun, time isn’t on his side.

But then there are two players who have plenty of time on their side – Josh McEachran and Gaël Kakuta. McEachran looks the more promising of the two, but if Kakuta can fulfill his early promise, he’ll be one for the future too. New signing Oriol Romeu, who has taken the number six shirt for the season is also being billed as one for the future, and only time will tell to see whether he can live up to what is being said of him.

There are also reserve players who are yet to break into the first team. Conor Clifford, whose form whilst on loan at Plymouth Argyle and Notts County earned him a call-up for the Republic Of Ireland. Jacob Mellis, has made one appearance for Chelsea, though has since been on loan to Barnsley and has a contract with the club until 2013. Two players featured in the pre-season friendly against Wycombe Wanderers, Billy Clifford and attacking midfielder Aliu Djalo. Both could be important in the future.

Nathaniel Chalobah, who is only 16, has a future ahead of him at Chelsea or so it seems. He was part of the pre-season tour in the far-east, and many think he’ll be included at points within the first team this season. He is primarily a defender, but can play in midfield too.

Then there’s also academy players. Reece Loudon, a left midfielder, Ali Gordon, a defender/holding midfielder, Archange Nkumu who is a holding midfielder, George Saville, Nathan Ake, James Ashton, Amin Affane, Anjur Osmanovic, Buomesca Na Banga or John Swift could be part of Chelsea’s midfield future between five and ten years, maybe less.

With Juan Mata being a Chelsea player too, and the possible addition of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, along with the Modrić rumours not going anywhere fast, Chelsea’s midfield future has the possibility of being a bright one. The youth players are reaching the latter stages of the cups now, and what many fans want to see is young players eased into the team throughout the season. This is more likely to happen if Chelsea are playing well, but with a few days left of the summer transfer window I wouldn’t doubt at least one more signing to strengthen the midfield for the near future anyway.

Have Trust In Our Own Grass

Posted: August 25, 2011 by derekorourke in Chelsea, Legends, Transfers, Youth

It’s silly season at the moment as we near the end of the summer transfer window. As usual, Chelsea are a team linked with just about anyone who is half decent. So far we have signed Courtois, Piazon, Romeu and Lukaku and Mata. On top of that, over the last month or so we have been heavily linked with the lavish to the ludicrous such as Modric, Moutinho, Perreira, Parker, Neymar, Cahill etc…the list is endless. If we were to believe all the tales of the tabloids we will have an entirely new squad of players this season.

Call me dull if you like, but I for one do not like to see wholesale changes made to a team. I think teams needs refreshing and rejuvenation rather than re-booting. We already have a new manager and backroom staff to integrate into the club, signing a host of players makes it even more difficult.

Before I ramble on any further, I’m going to get to the point of this article – TRUST. We are being heavily linked with Modric at the moment. A good player? Yes. Needed? Up for debate, but I would say no, especially at £30+ million. He might be very green looking grass to some Chelsea fans but I think the grass we have already planted and laid in SW6 can grow greener and richer. Currently on our books in the Modric style is the experienced Yossi Benayoun and the upcoming Josh McEachran. I like to see a mixture of youth and experience and I feel those two can be a massive influence on Chelsea this season.

Not only would we be dumping another £30m out of the Chelsea coffers but we will also be hindering the development of a potential star in Josh, something I cannot put a price on. We would also risk losing Yossi Benayoun, who looks content to be a squad player and isn’t on ridiculously high wages.

Why do I care? It’s not my money you might argue. Fair enough, but I would like to see my Chelsea go about things the right way, and one of those things is to win trophies with Chelsea players, clubmen if you like. At the moment we could consider Cech, JT, Lamps, Drogs and Mikel as proper Chelsea club men from our first team. After that, looking at our younger players who are around the first team and I only see Josh and maybe Bertrand (I could include Lukaku as he is a fan but you know what I mean) as Chelsea products and people who are proud to represent our great club. What I’m asking and pleading with Chelsea to do is trust them to be not just our future grass but our present grass. Some grass gets very dry and brown once it arrives, why risk that when we have grass grown from our own soil which we know is already green and guarantees richness.

If someone had told me 24 hours ago that McEachran would score within the first minute against Aston Villa and that Torres would score with his first touch as a substitute, I’d quite gladly admit that I probably wouldn’t have believed them.

However, Chelsea have done it again by catching me completely off guard. After just getting prepared to watch the game, I was instantly shocked/amazed/open mouthed/in awe at witnessing 18 year old Josh McEachran score his first senior goal for the club in just over 30 seconds post kick-off. Undoubtedly a huge day for this English hotshot. Everyone could see the joy on his face and maybe even a hint of surprise to go along with it.

And if that wasn’t enough, the towering figure of one Fernando Torres sneaked himself a goal too; a confidence boost that will no doubt have him scoring freely next season; his body language was far superior than in prior games. It’s there to be said that our number 9 could well be on his way back to stardom in no time. Add in the fact that Drogba was also on the pitch, will have every Chelsea fan dreaming of the type of partnership they could form in the near future.

But let us not forget that Daniel Sturridge is deserving of a chance. Genuinely, I believe that Danny could quite easily be the solution to our right wing ‘problem’ of recent times. Yes, we have Kalou and Anelka (who deserves a mention after a good first half display today) but, as many recent posts on the blog have explained, Sturridge needs his opportunity now. He has worked in a determined and enthusiastic manner, which alone warrants a chance.

Bottom line : Do we ‘need’ big signings? No. Does Andre Villas-Boas need to rotate the squad more effectively than his predecessor? Yes. With all that in the equation, it is only minor tweaking that is needed. The current Chelsea squad is more than capable of challenging for every competition they’re a part of and (fingers crossed) even win.

The type of players that Andre Villas-Boas has at his disposal is enough to frighten any manager, so it’s time to up the gear-stick and utilise every player in the way they were originally intended.