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Chelsea's youth finally reaping rewards


Madmax

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Age can be a touchy topic at Stamford Bridge. Outsiders routinely attribute defeats to the seniority of the spine of the side and pose questions about how much longer they can sustain the standards they have set. And yet there are signs it may become a source of pride rather than an awkward subject. Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City featured the novel sight, for Chelsea anyway, of a £17 million Brazilian being replaced by a 17-year-old Englishman.

Josh McEachran, of whom much is expected, came on for Ramires and is at the vanguard of a new generation. Until his recent emergence, 19-year-old Gael Kakuta was its most famous representative, while defenders Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt (who scored against Newcastle), and striker Daniel Sturridge, who struck the previous week against MSK Zilina in the Champions League qualify as contemporaries (the latter is slightly older but has only been at the club for 14 months). Carlo Ancelotti, unlike his predecessors, is showing signs he will trust the younger players and Chelsea may not remain synonymous with expensive imports.

It is too soon to say if they will help in the club's long-term objective of breaking even. It does suggest a radical change in strategy. But what it obscures is the reality that McEachran and company are the second generation of Chelsea's youth policy.

The fortunes of their predecessors equated to a false start from director of football Frank Arnesen. They are scattered across Europe, up and down the divisions in England and camouflaged in Chelsea's reserve team. Mainly recruited in 2006 and 2007 as Jose Mourinho's influence on Roman Abramovich began to wane and Arnesen's increased, they are Stamford Bridge's equivalent of a missing persons' list, footballers who were lost in inaction in the capital.

Admittedly, one made it to Wembley last season - not with the double winners, but as a substitute in Carlisle's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final team. Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods commanded a combined £5 million fee when they were enticed from Leeds' academy. The former never appeared for Chelsea's first team before moving to Carlisle, while the latter debuted almost four years ago but has only made two appearances while disappearing into the second-string side.

They proved a monumental waste of money, but others have come at cost. Before being sold at a £1.5 million loss, Franco Di Santo was briefly and inappropriately given Chelsea's No. 9 shirt. Now a Wigan player, his career in England, which also encompasses a loan spell at Blackburn, has brought one goal in 44 games. It is the sort of return that makes Emile Heskey look like Ian Rush.

Among those imported at an embryonic stage of their development, Miroslav Stoch has achieved more, helping Slovakia qualify for the World Cup and FC Twente win the Dutch title before being transferred to Fenerbahce in the summer for a rare and welcome profit. Yet he appeared for Chelsea a handful of times.

Nemanja Matic is another given a temporary stint in Dutch football, partly, it appears, because the midfielder might not have made Chelsea's 25-man squad. Defender Slobodan Rajkovic is in a third loan spell in the Netherlands. The indications are that neither Serb will make the grade in London.

There are advertisements for a permanent departure. Among those recruited closer to home, Scott Sinclair was borrowed by six other clubs before Swansea signed him for £500,000. The winger has already delivered eight goals this season, suggesting a new-found stability agrees with him.

Michael Mancienne, meanwhile, has a bizarre form of continuity. Two successive seasons at QPR have been followed by three in the colours of Wolves. The consequence is that only six of his 112 career appearances have come for his parent club. And yet he has still figured more than another perpetual loanee, Jack Cork, whose unconventional career consists of eight stints at six clubs and 131 games without making a Chelsea bow. It looks unlikely, to say the least.

Perhaps Chelsea's wealth allows the others the opportunity to benefit from the services of players who are able, if not quite good enough, to feature at Stamford Bridge but it is debateable if footballers in an unending form of limbo benefit. Some, like Oxford's Harry Worley, have descended the Football League at unfortunate speed.

Others might deem themselves unlucky. The combination of Chelsea's chequebook, strong squad and a short-termist approach dictated by the quest for silverware and a high turnover of managers is scarcely an environment to experiment with the emerging.

But for the knee injury that forced him to retire at 21, it is possible that Sam Hutchinson would have become the first homegrown player since John Terry to establish himself in the first team. Instead, that tag may go to McEachran.

His progress appears a sign that a lamentable record is improving. It is about time. Because in their attempt to rival Manchester United and Arsenal in youth development, Chelsea initially emulated Liverpool, bringing in quantity when they really needed quality. It is not just because of the contingent of 30-somethings in their squad that they have haven't enjoyed the numbers game.

Source : Soccernet

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we could've had a handful of "own" players by now:

Stoch

JACK CORK (a firstteamer, outstanding performances and loved by the club as much as by the fans)

Sinclair (running riot in the ChampionChip)

Mancienne

thats what I've said before the start of the season

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progress of young players has always been unpredictable ...even many U21 internationals fail to step up . with U16 , U17 and U18s even fewer

achieve what was hoped for . I remember seeing 2 Chelsea schoolboys when their internationals were regularly shown in full on BBC ...

One was Jimmy Greaves who became stellar , The centre forrward was even more impressive ;his name Barry Bridges . He became a pro .but never reached the heights expected . We can just hope that our most talented youngsters avoid serious injuries and develop into stars

at CHELSEA

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we could've had a handful of "own" players by now:

Stoch

JACK CORK (a firstteamer, outstanding performances and loved by the club as much as by the fans)

Sinclair (running riot in the ChampionChip)

Mancienne

thats what I've said before the start of the season

We've still got those 2, I have no doubts that Cork will break through, Mancienne seems to have a cloudy future though.

Sinclair was a different issue. He was clearly unable to play in our system or be the type of player we were looking for. He may be "running riot" in the Championship but he clearly didn't show this quality when signed to us.

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We've still got those 2, I have no doubts that Cork will break through, Mancienne seems to have a cloudy future though.

I doubt either of those are going to make it. Carlo doesn't seem to think very highly of them, else he would have kept them in the squad this season considering they're both homegrown and have experience in the PL.

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The players that are currently away from Chelsea (Mancienne, Cork, Bertrand) are not likely now i think to make it with Chelsea. The current players we are breaking through, Bornini, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Kakuta and McEachran are all exceptionally talented and have shown that they can play at our first team level and i am sure that they will continue to grow into top Chelsea players. We have also a crop of players behind them very high in quality and then even further back more players with high prospects. We are doing the right thing with them at the moment, giving them playing time, if we feel they need it then a loan to the premiership will be ideal and they will be given that if needed.

Carlo is doing very good work with our youngsters and it will reap rewards. Lets just hope they keep being given games

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The players that are currently away from Chelsea (Mancienne, Cork, Bertrand) are not likely now i think to make it with Chelsea. The current players we are breaking through, Bornini, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Kakuta and McEachran are all exceptionally talented and have shown that they can play at our first team level and i am sure that they will continue to grow into top Chelsea players. We have also a crop of players behind them very high in quality and then even further back more players with high prospects. We are doing the right thing with them at the moment, giving them playing time, if we feel they need it then a loan to the premiership will be ideal and they will be given that if needed.

Carlo is doing very good work with our youngsters and it will reap rewards. Lets just hope they keep being given games

yes i think the same way about this, cork wasnt to been given any chance after Matic was bought... and thats sad. I Still belive He's one of our best Talents and an English player too...

But i dont want to be a Term-X-Like-User in that case of Jack Cork :)

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The players that are currently away from Chelsea (Mancienne, Cork, Bertrand) are not likely now i think to make it with Chelsea. The current players we are breaking through, Bornini, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Kakuta and McEachran are all exceptionally talented and have shown that they can play at our first team level and i am sure that they will continue to grow into top Chelsea players. We have also a crop of players behind them very high in quality and then even further back more players with high prospects. We are doing the right thing with them at the moment, giving them playing time, if we feel they need it then a loan to the premiership will be ideal and they will be given that if needed.

Carlo is doing very good work with our youngsters and it will reap rewards. Lets just hope they keep being given games

Borini also disappeared a bit on the background imo,. Others like PVA, Bruma & Kakuta have made step forward while he mainly featured in the reserves since his debut for the first team. Hopefully he will make it, always was impressed with his performances.

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Sinclair didn't make the grade at Wigan, in the PL. Di Santo didn't make the grade at Blackburn, again moves in the PL.

This is why I'm annoyed at the club with regards to Cork and Mancienne, both capable players, Cork more than Mancienne. They both have qualities we could've used though and these final loan outs for them mean that I have no doubt in my head that both will leave us next summer, to Burnley and to Wolves.

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