Not six months ago, Patrick Bamford was putting the finishing touches on the league campaign that would see him win the Championship Player of the Year award and come just about as close as one can get to promotion with Middlesbrough. Having proven himself in the second division, everyone was excited to see what the 22-year-old could do in the Premier League, whether at Chelsea or on loan at some other club.
Once Chelsea and Mourinho managed to convince Loïc Rémy to stay and brought in Radamel Falcao on loan for whatever reason, the obvious, beneficial move for Bamford was to look for a loan. Crystal Palace came knocking and it seemed like they would be a great fit, with their collection of rather average strikers and Mourinho-friendly Alan Pardew in charge. Alas, things have not really worked out as planned so far. Not at all, in fact.
"I was disappointed when I was left out of the first Man City squad so I had a chat with [Alan Pardew]. He said he needed to see me show a bit more fight. I'd been training the same way I did at Middlesbrough and Derby and couldn't understand why I wasn't getting in the team.
"They monitor our stats in every session and I knew I was doing enough running but it was how it was being perceived. I had a chat with my dad and decided that sometimes you've just got to look like you're fighting. So I started putting myself about a bit more, showing a bit more aggression in training."
"The manager said he'd noticed I'd changed, that he was really pleased and that when I'd come on in games I'd been trying to take my chance."
Even though Bamford's non-Berbatovian hard work had been noticed by his manager, it doesn't seem to have mattered too much. He only has a grand total of 49 minutes of Premier League football so far this term. And while Bamford admits he could go back to Chelsea in January, he's not one to give up. He's a fighter. He's wasn't ever first choice to start with at any of his clubs so far in his career, but by the time his loans were up, he was.
"I put in a six-month break clause in case things didn't work out. That would be if the worst came to the worst because at the minute I'm there or thereabouts. It's not like I'm not involved. If that was the case I'd go back. But I've said I wouldn't give up and that is my mentality."
"If I'm honest, it's been frustrating. But I suppose I've got to stay positive and not quit."
To that effect, he's receiving plenty of support from Chelsea as well. The parent club are providing not only coaching help and tactical tips (as we know from other loanees), apparently Chelsea have also set up a WhatsApp group with all 34 Chelsea on-loan players in it to help foster a sense of community and camaraderie. [Ed.note: I guess this is a thing for the kids these days?]
Bamford's also gotten support from the club psychologist who apparently has urged the young striker to search his feelings and use the power of the dark side when appropriate:
"We have a psychologist at Chelsea who goes around seeing the loan players. He said every top, top player has a dark side."
"So someone like Diego Costa sometimes oversteps the mark. But you can see he plays on the edge. He said I had to develop that."
"It's not natural for me to be like that. Some players might lash out but for me it's probably more talking to opponents. There's different ways of doing it but I think it's something I'll develop."
-Patrick Bamford; source: The Sun
Obvious not evertyhing Costa does should be copied, but his intensity and relentless pursuit of whatever aims he's pursuing are admirable qualities. Developing this psychological edge, which is tough to do in youth league where Chelsea sides are usually several levels above most, might be even more important than our youth trophy collection.