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U21s 2015-2016

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The 21s are away to Tottenham in the Premier League International Cup tonight.

Ola Aina has just scored from the halfway line to put Chelsea 3-0 up after 35 minutes. Other goals were scored by Reece Mitchell and a beauty from Kasey Palmer. One day I want to see Kasey score an ordinary goal. It's an ambition of mine. :)

Edit: 8:32pm Now 2-3. Spurs well back in the game and their second goal has been coming.

Edit: 8:50pm Now 2-4. Tammy gets the fourth with under three minutes left. Nice team goal that should now have sealed the win.

Edit: 8:56pm FT 2-5. Last minute strike from Tammy puts Spurs in their place. :).

Edited by OhForAGreavsie
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U19 beat Ajax 1-0 to make it into the semis. Great win and deserved. Clarke-Salter was fantastic and so was Tomori. Palmer once again very impressive. Ajax had a few players playing who have played a few times for the first team already and we really did a job on them. Cerny and Van de Beek namely. They also had Nouri playing who is rated really highly and De Boer has said he will be in the Ajax first team very soon. It goes to show how talented our youth team is if we can beat Ajax and  could possibly win this competiton twice in a row.

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10 hours ago, Stats said:

U19 beat Ajax 1-0 to make it into the semis. Great win and deserved. Clarke-Salter was fantastic and so was Tomori. Palmer once again very impressive. Ajax had a few players playing who have played a few times for the first team already and we really did a job on them. Cerny and Van de Beek namely. They also had Nouri playing who is rated really highly and De Boer has said he will be in the Ajax first team very soon. It goes to show how talented our youth team is if we can beat Ajax and  could possibly win this competiton twice in a row.

I agree that we were the better team and deserved the win but the domination was more territorial than goal threatening. I thought that many of the better players on the day were in red & white. The technical quality of the Ajax lads in possession was very high. The way their back four claimed and retained the ball with calm, sure control and passing was impressive. Further forward, Nouri in particular did some outstanding things. I think regular watchers of our youth sides last season were supremely confident that the 19s would make up for their shock exit at the quarter final stage the previous year and win the tournament. This time around I don't have the same feeling but that is no criticism of the young lads.

We've made the finals so we have a chance and that proves that this incarnation of our 19s is a good team. It does lack however, the outstanding individuals that made our 2014/15 version so obviously the best in Europe. Whereas last year there was a feeling that no one really had any chance against us, this time around the gap has narrowed and probably closed altogether. This can't be seen as a surprise. No under 19 side can loose Aina, Boga, Brown, Christiansen, a fully fit Colkett, Loftus-Cheek, Musonda and Solanke without a drop off in quality. Indeed to have lost all of those players and still reached the finals is a great achievement for the lads. I wouldn't bet on them winning it however.

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Defending Chelsea FC’s youth strategy


Chelsea’s use/misuse of young players has been an area of contention and discontentment. Is it fully warranted? Could a case be made for the current policy?In the wake of a disastrous season, the club and its supporters are left in a mood of contemplation and one of ruing over past decisions, all of it in pursuit of making sense of why the club are in the position they are now.In the age of Financial Fair Play, our pursuit of talented youngsters who could develop into stars was seen as trend-setting and a way to maintain our dominance at the top. The policy has paid dividends financially but success on the pitch has been hard to come by.Although we have a clear success story in Thibaut Courtois, his fellow Belgians Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have parted ways and established themselves as top-notch players in the league. It is a bitter pill to swallow for the Chelsea supporters to see them succeed elsewhere after years of rooting for them to wear the Chelsea blue.All of this has led to a lot of blame being thrown around and a lot of discontentment over our misuse of what has been a bountiful crop of talented youth developed at our academy.It is a testament to the work being done at the academy that our youth teams are so successful and visible. Every year players leave on loan and younger players step up and take their mantle. The achievement of winning three FA Youth cups and two UEFA Youth League trophies on the trot is nothing short of excellent. The fact that the players involved in these tournaments change every year adds further gloss to the already shining trophy cabinet.But the jump from U-19 level of football to professional football at Chelsea FC has proven to be elusive. The jarring fact that none of our academy graduates have made it into the first team since John Terry remains true yet. It baffles the mind as to why this has not yet changed given the embarrassing riches we have in our youth teams and also out on loan.

The question most frequently asked has been, is there a plan? Fans have been fed platitudes and promises but there seems to be little in the way of actions taken. The endless circle of loaning promising players out only to see them suffer setbacks in terms of playing time after successful spells in previous seasons is depressing and seemingly leading nowhere.Players like Nathaniel Chalobah, Patrick Bamford and co. have suffered from a slew of bad loans which have damaged their burgeoning reputations. When asked about it, Michael Emenalo and Eddie Newton have been fairly unapologetic. They insist that there is a plan.The so-called plan has been something along these lines. It is a given that players at U-19 level are not equipped to mentally or physically handle the rigors of top flight professional football, especially at a club like Chelsea. So through a progression of loans, each player is expected to gain experience and learn the nuances of professional football until that point where he’s ready to contribute.So the question to be asked is how to determine if the players are ready?The metric seems to be either the player garners experience of a 100 plus top flight professional matches or comes of age at 22-23 years old. That magic number is of particular interest as players like Bamford, Chalobah and Marco Van Ginkel all satisfy said conditions.The likes of Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen‘s mature performances out on loan have them knocking on the first team door as have Lewis Baker’s heroics at the Toulon tournament on the back of a solid season at Vitesse. Todd Kane‘s name was dropped by our technical director in a recent interview as well.The truth is that these are all talented players and that they have had success at various levels of football is a testament to that fact. But there are also some bad spells on some of their CVs which may have not been completely due to their failings.In many cases, however, we have seen improvement based on the advice the club’s scouts give them. Bamford’s steady and promising progression from League One to the Championship’s best player is a great example of that. The same was true with Courtois. We don’t just abandon them once we loan them out. We are constantly monitoring their game and their mentality.Under the right circumstances and given opportunities players have blossomed into one of the best in their leagues. Even Chalobah who has had very little playing time at Napoli seems to have come back a better player. His performances at the Toulon tournament seemed like those of a player fulfilling his destiny.The point I’m trying to make is that we haven’t had success in this area because the timing hasn’t been right. Any manager, even one whose CV is as good as Jose Mourinho‘s, is not immune from the perils of failure. Under such pressure, molding half-baked players is not a task any manager will undertake.Keeping that in mind, in the past three years, I asked myself who among our players could I have wholeheartedly said was ready for the first team. It always seemed like they were one loan away from being ready.Maybe in some cases that will always be the case. But sitting at the top of the transfer window food chain, the policy of a club of our stature has always been one of letting smaller clubs develop talent so we can swoop in and reap the benefits. The loan policy should and must be an extension of that, not a stalling mechanism to keep our youth away.This summer is seen by many, rightly so, as being pivotal for our future. The reality is that we aren’t the hot destination we were last summer coming off the back of our title win. The names we are being linked to are not the best we could get.

Put in a situation like this, the club must look within for quality. All the tools we need to supplement our squad are available to us in Chalobah, Ake, Van Ginkel and Baker. This piece may have come prematurely but maybe the club will indeed give them a chance because the time is right both for them and the club.There is very little to be optimistic about these days. The club could immediately reverse that with the inclusion of players like Baker and Chalobah who have been at the club from a very young age, who have been captains of youth teams at various levels and who will take their chances hopefully with both hands.Antonio Conte and his staff have many decisions to make this summer but for me the most crucial one will be whether or not they are willing to take a gamble on tomorrow’s stars who are knocking at the door.Timing is very important in football. After a perfect storm of a season, with little to cheer about, we’ve now got to rebuild the emaciated squad. In this time of need, if we look at our young players, they have had encouraging seasons and seem ready to handle the rigors of being at Chelsea. Maybe now the timing will finally be right for all parties. Maybe now we’ll finally be able to bring through our own.

The Pride of London



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