Chelsea FC: The Time Is Right To Play Club’s Young Prospects


On Monday, the Chelsea FC Under-18 squad won the FA Youth Cup with a 2-1 victory over Manchester City’s youth squad, 5-2 on aggregate. It was the team’s second straight Youth Cup victory, and its fourth in the last six years.

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Two weeks prior, the Under-19 team, with many of the same players, won the UEFA Youth Cup, beating Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2.

The Under-21 team sits in 6th place in the Barclays Youth Premier League, but only 6 points off the top.

There are only a few teams in Europe, much less in England, that can match such depth in the youth ranks. And yet, Liverpool, Southampton and United have all, undoubtedly, done better jobs at promoting young players to the first team. This year, Liverpool has incorporated into the first team, Jordan Ibe — and United, Tyler Blacklett and James Wilson.

No team has done a better job of working its young stars into the first team than Southmapton. This year alone, Harrison Reed, James Ward-Prowse, Jason McCarthy and Matt Targett have broken into the team. Historically, Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain, Matt Le-Tissier and Alan Shearer have all come out of the academy.

Chelsea have produced just one consistent first team player in the last fifteen years: John Terry. The club has been reluctant to give youth a chance, with so much pressure on the team to succeed now, rather than later.

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That is starting to change now. Fans and pundits alike have begun to increasingly call on Jose Mourinho to give young players opportunities, especially in light of the increased successes. Mourinho himself has shown a greater desire to do this, but continues to cite the pressure of being in a title race as holding him back from allowing Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dom Solanke or Charlie Colkett to make regular appearances.

The youth team is so deep, that people are writing articles about the “hidden gems” within the youth team. Most of the time, the youth star is hidden gem, but so many people know about Solanke, Jeremie Boga and Izzy Brown that great players like Tammy Abraham, Colkett, Charly Musonda and Jay Dasilva are flying under the radar.

Chelsea’s problem is a good one — one of plenty. Not only is Chelsea deep in the youth squads in nearly every position, but it’s also pretty deep in the first team, saying nothing of its loan system.

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With the title race now all but over (Chelsea can clinch on Sunday with a victory), this is Jose’s chance. The loan players who have impressed are still gone; the senior players have fought all season, and deserve a rest. Give the youth a shot.

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Didier Drogba has struggled to replace Diego Costa and Loic Remy, so why not bring in Solanke and Brown for the last couple of games, giving them vital experience against top flight teams. Oscar isn’t at full health, and Eden Hazard and Willian must be tired after a long season; so bring Boga or Musonda. Give Colkett and Loftus-Cheek valuable learning time, paired with either Cesc Fabregas or Nemanja Matic.

This is Jose’s best chance. The games still matter to a point, but a draw won’t kill the team. There is room for error now. If Jose misses this chance, then a better one might not provide itself.

Next: Mourinho Set to Dominate the Premier League