Jose Mourinho might have praised many of his players after the West Ham win. Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and most of the defence in particular were brilliant, and well worthy of some managerial attention. What I don't think anyone was expecting was a random torrent of love for someone who spent the whole match on the bench.
But, hey, why not? Ruben Loftus-Cheek, your time is ... er. Next year:
I had Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the bench and I have to say that, in my opinion, next year, this kid will be a big surprise in the Premier League. This season, if I was not playing for the title and we were not playing with the pressure we have, this kid would already be on the pitch.
Those quotes are good for Loftus-Cheek, but also reveal -- or rather confirm -- an important difficulty for Chelsea in terms of integrating youth players. It's extremely difficult to trust youngsters to perform when the stakes are as high as they are this season, and since (or so we hope) we're going to be in the running for the title next year, Mourinho's comments about pressure would apply then, too.
So what of his assertion that Loftus-Cheek's theoretical pitch time, then? It's nice that he's being talked up, but actions speak far, far louder than words so far as the young players are concerned. The manager isn't totally youth-averse, of course -- 20-year-old Kurt Zouma has featured out of position in two key matches in a row -- but I'll believe RLC will get Premier League time next year when I actually see it happening.