Apparently, Jose Mourinho has been talking a lot about Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the youth players again! Yeah, it is becoming an obsession, right? Well maybe not!
Remember, how last season all Mourinho talked about was us being “little horses” who were still inept in winning the league? We needed a certain “evolution” to challenge for the title next season and this year was supposed to be ours, right? Well, guess what? We did win the league this year, and the Special One fulfilled every promise he made regarding our evolution as a team! The mark of a champion? Take notes Arsene Wenger!
This year though, the talk has shifted from “little horses” to the academy players and more importantly, Ruben Loftus-Cheek! We have often been accused of not giving our youth players enough chances in the first team for a long time now. But, it all seems to be changing bit by bit this season.
This season has brought a wind of change at Cobham, as our academy has won every trophy there is, including the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup!
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been the shining star of our academy and Jose hasn’t been shy to talk about the talented kid who has been with Chelsea, since the age of 8. Jose has few things to say about Ruben, the Chelsea academy and the process of integrating youth into the senior squad:
“Academies are a process. It starts with the facilities but it ends with the co-operation between the academy and the first team. At this moment we are working well. The players are the best witness of that work and they feel it. We know we are going in the right direction. This year, the most important title for the academy was Ruben, not the UEFA Youth League or the FA Youth Cup. It was Ruben: the best trophy. I’m excited but I keep emotional control. If I don’t I’d lose the players or help them go the wrong way but, yes, I am excited – but with stability. At this minute, that’s what they need.”
“He played against Liverpool. He’s going to play against West Bromwich. Next season he starts with us and is stable because he’s part of the squad. He’s not trying to win a position in it. He’s part of it. He’s not going on loan and knows that. They need that kind of stability unless, they play in very small clubs when, at 17 or 18, they go directly in the first team. But to be in a big team and reach the level to be regularly playing for the first team, you need time and stability. We try to give that to our boys.” – (Source: guardian)
Yes, that’s what we have been saying all along! You can’t just shove a young player into the first team, no matter how talented he is. Otherwise, you are just going to end up like Arsenal. It’s a slow process as the younger ones need time and stability and gradual integration to the first team and apparently, that’s what Jose is trying to say here:
“These kids trust us and know what we do is the best for them. They know the decisions for next season are the best decisions for them. Ruben is going to stay as a member of the first-team squad.”
Emphasis on that last line! Jose has said it time and time again this season that Ruben is going to fight for minutes next season as a full member of the squad. He thinks that the talented Englishman doesn’t need a loan to jump off to that next level. Jose is trying to provide stability to Loftus-Cheek’s career by making him challenge for minutes next season at the Bridge which seems fair but, what about the players like Bamford or Chalobah who were sent on loan? Don’t they need stability? Why were these players sent on a loan while Ruben remained with the first team? The boss has answers for these questions too:
“The others who have been here in the seniors for one year [Christensen, if he signs a new contract, Ake, Jamal Blackman among others] are ready for the next step: that’s not the first team but a loan to a good team, to a good league and then to come back. That would open space for kids who are now in the academy to be in the first-team squad next season.”
“So imagine Christensen going on loan. If he does, he goes to a high-level market. It opens space for another defender in the academy now to become part of the first team. If his development in the first team is so strong, like Ruben’s, that allows him to stay in the first team forever, then perfect. If not, he reaches another level and gets another loan.”
“So, for example, maybe Ola Aina will be in our first-team squad next year. We have this system in place for them – and I know it brings results.”
What Mourinho is trying to say here is; if he deems a player good enough to start for the first team, there’s no reason he has to go on loan. In this case, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been a revelation for the Chelsea academy and according to the boss, he has already jumped the next step! In Mourinho’s own words:
“His development in the first team is so strong; he is already good enough to challenge minutes at the highest level.”
Players like Christensen, Ake have had a few good seasons at the academy level, but the Portuguese thinks they still need to go on loan to take that next step. That’s why, we have seen players like Lewis Baker and John Swift plying their trade in Championship while, players like Ruben remains with the first team! Maybe, next year, the likes of Christensen and Ake move to a loan club to take that leap meanwhile players like Ola Aina get a shot in the first team.
As Mourinho pointed out, it’s a slow and steady process. For example, if someone like Ola Aina develops in a strong manner, he will most likely stay with the first team, thus, avoiding the loan altogether. If not, he will definitely move on loan while, some other kid gets a shot at the highest stage!
So, this is how it’s going to work at the Bridge and truth be told; I don’t find any fault with this system. Basically, if you are good enough, you get a shot with the senior boys, and if not, a loan is on the cards. As of me, I am definitely on board with this system, provided Jose does fulfill his promises and gives fair opportunities to Ruben next season!
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Edited By: Vikram
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