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Interview: Dermot Drummy


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Dermot Drummy tonight hopes to celebrate his appointment as permanent youth team manager by reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup. To do so, the side under his charge needs to add a win at Anfield against Liverpool's Under 18s to a home victory over Walsall and commencing this cup run, the commendable achievement of beating Manchester United at Old Trafford.

It's an exciting challenge against a club who have lifted this trophy twice in the last three seasons and is one that supporters can follow live on Chelsea TV.

It is also the type of exciting challenge that Dermot's career progression as a developer of young football talent has been aiming towards.

Until last week, and since Paul Clement's move to become reserve team manager in the wake of Brendan Rodgers's November departure, Dermot was interim youth coach. He had previously been in charge of our Under 16 schoolboy team.

Now the 48-year-old has been informed the youth team job is fully his.

'It is honour, it is where I want to be,' Dermot confirms. 'I want to be coaching at the highest level in youth development. A club like Chelsea is prestigious and I am aware of the responsibility that goes with the job. I am really happy to be appointed.'

So what is the background of the man who hopefully will play a big part in shaping talent for our first team over the coming years? There's no point hiding the fact. The word Arsenal appears large.

Dermot joined the north Londoners at 13. He played youth team football in midfield alongside future Arsenal regular Paul Davis and in front of centre-back Chris Whyte, later a league champion with Leeds.

'I progressed to a professional but I got released at 19,' he recounts. 'I went on-loan to Blackpool and played in Division Two for a short period and then I went semi-professional at various clubs like Hendon, Wealdstone and Enfield.'

Dermot stopped playing at 35 which is when coaching began and Arsenal resurfaced.

During his apprenticeship he had assisted a professional by the famous name of Liam Brady, who by now was Arsenal Academy director.

'So I got into it under him, progressed to Under 16 coach and then assistant youth coach under Steve Bould. Then I joined Chelsea 18 months ago.

'I felt at Arsenal I had probably gone as far as I could go and when the youth team job came up at Chelsea, on the network that goes around I let it be known that I might be interested.

'Clem got the job but [Chelsea Academy manager] Neil Bath knew then that I was maybe looking for a challenge.

'Once I met Neil and saw the vision Chelsea have, I was kind of sold on it. I thought this is the next person to develop me. Neil was quite influential in that. I am very happy I made the move.'

So began his time in charge of our Under 16s. At Arsenal, Dermot had worked at bring on the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Jérémie Aliadière, Moritz Volz, Johan Djourou, Nicklas Bendtner and more recently, several of this season's Carling Cup side, including the highly-rated Jack Wilshere.

'I could oversee players that came in at nine and made the whole journey to the first team. It is very important having patience with youth when you judge and work with the players, on and off the field. You only get that by working in that particular environment.

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'Chelsea is much different in terms of it is a bigger structure. There is a lot more going on in terms of sports science, nutrition and video analysis. In terms of developing myself, I have access to a lot of professional people.

'It is very different off the field. On the field it is still very much the same as Arsenal. It is about technically developing a player at a young age and then as they get older, you get more specific in how you shape their lifestyle.'

Dermot's transition from Under 16 coach to youth team manager was never likely to feel a huge change, especially as many of the boys have moved up with him. But it was made even smoother by the fact he assisted Clement during last year's invigorating journey to the FA Youth Cup Final.

For Chelsea fans who followed that story, a nucleus of players they'd have come to know from the team that eventually lost to Man City remains in this season's cup side. They are names like centre-back Jeffrey Bruma, left-back Ben Gordon, midfielder Jacob Mellis, playmaker Gaël Kakuta and big front man Frank Nouble.

But there are also fresh new faces whom Dermot worked with in both last season's and this season's Under 16s squad.

One is schoolboy Rohan Ince (pictured below, courtesy Mark Sandom), asked to partner Bruma in central defence in the last two rounds.

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'Rohan has done really well and is a regular in the youth team at the moment,' reports his coach.

'He can physically handle it and was not fazed when he played at Old Trafford. He scored against Walsall and is a very down-to-earth lad who doesn't seem to have any nerves.

'His development will be playing against fast front players with good movement and that is a different test than he'll get in the Under 16s - so this is great for him.

'He'll tell you he's a midfielder, that's where he liked to play as a schoolboy but at this moment with his height, size and technical ability, because we like to play out from the back, we play him as a centre-half. We're not totally sure where he'll end up playing.'

Rohan is not likely to be the only Ince on the Anfield turf tonight. Paul Ince's son Tom is member of Liverpool's youth side.

'He plays a number 10 role, similar to Kakuta and makes decent passes, is intelligent and puts in a few tackles like his dad. He will be one we have to watch,' is Dermot's view having scouted his opponents.

But returning to home and his younger players, first year scholar Conor Clifford (pictured below) and schoolboy Josh McEachran have been used as subs in the cup campaign.

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'Conor is technically very good, has a burning desire that's infectious and can break down play and get the ball back. He has a fantastic team ethic and is a very positive person.

'Josh technically is way above his year. We don't play him the full game most of the time and our conditioning coaches are working on programmes to build his body up to stand the rigours of the football - but he's an exciting talent.'

Goals have not been hard to come by in the cup so far with a 3-2 win in Manchester followed by a 5-1 triumph over Walsall.

An unchanged three-man forward line has consisted of Italians Fabio Borini and Jacopo Sala plus London boy Nouble. Borini has 13 goals for the season for youth and reserve teams, Nouble a combined 13, including a thunderous left-foot smash at Old Trafford (pictured below), and Sala has five youth goals.

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'By his own admission Borini's first year settling into the country proved tough but he has been fabulous this year,' explains Dermot who isn't only relying on that front three for goals.

'Kakuta can turn a game with a bit of magic and we have Marko Mitrovic who will be in and around the team. He scored two goals in our last game and is in fine form. Mellis can pull one out and Daniel Philliskirk has scored goals.'

The snow scuppered this week's original preparation plans but the squad was able to train inside in the dome at Cobham early yesterday before the first team took it over. They then headed up to Merseyside.

'They weren't fazed by going to Old Trafford and the experience of last year's Youth Cup helped them. I don't sense any nerves when I am around them,' Dermot says.

'I think they prepare very well and they are not daunted by Anfield. They will go out and play.'

You can watch Drummy preview tonight's FA Youth Cup clash on Chelsea TV from 6.30pm, with expert opinion from MK Dons' assistant manager and former Academy coach Eddie Newton, who joins the Chelsea TV team inside the studio.

Former Blue Clive Walker will help commentate, offering a player's insight as the game unfolds, before Drummy gives the club's official television channel post-match reaction once the fixture has been decided.

Entry for spectators at Anfield is adults £4, juveniles aged 16 or under and senior citizens £2.

If you haven't got Chelsea TV phone 08442 410 803 or click here to place your subscription at £6 a month. Chelsea TV is on Sky Channel 421.

Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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