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Mourinho challenges Ruben Loftus-Cheek to show the hunger and the desire to compete

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WAGNH's 2015/16 Season Preview

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In a way, I think everybody's a bit disappointed.  And I don't mean with the preseason results, those hefty harbingers of hardly anything significant.

Towards the end of last season, Mourinho spent plenty of airtime building up the hype around not only Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but Dominic Solanke and Lewis Baker as well.  They were his three horsemen of a future English Chelsea core.  They were going to learn and develop under the stable leadership of Mourinho Mk.II, to train with the world class Chelsea squad and slowly integrate themselves into the first-team.  Sure, that sounded a bit far-fetched based on prior evidence, but the hope was real.  The intent, as far as we could gather, was real as well.

Cracks started to show during the post-season tour of Thailand and Australia.  Now, the summer has seen both Baker and Solanke leave on loan.  It's probably for the better in both their cases, but the moves go against plans laid out just a few months ago.  Loftus-Cheek is still with the first-team and has played the most minutes of any of our youngsters this preseason, but the hype and the hope has been replaced by disappointment and worry.  And I feel that's true for not just the fans and advocates of the youth, but Mourinho as well.  He probably expected more.  Which is why he's issued a fresh challenge to Loftus-Cheek and the rest of our youth.

"[His prospects, his playing time] depends on him - not on me. People normally ask about chances and chances and chances and maybe that's a good excuse for the young players to be where they are."

"I think maybe for the good of English football, you should go the other way. Are you ready to get the chance?"

"Because the other day I had this internal discussion. Must the manager give confidence to a player? Or must the player give confidence to a manager? And I had this nice internal discussion with my people. At the end of the day we arrive into a conclusion that players pick themselves. That's the responsibility that they must have."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Mail

But wait, isn't Mourinho supposed to be the master at giving confidence to his players?  To make them feel like world-beaters?  To walk into the shower just to tell them that they're best in the world at their position?  To take them on loan after two seasons of utter failure just to prove a point?

The confidence he speaks of here must therefore be one that's completely divorced from motivation.  He cannot give this confidence, this internal drive to a player.  All he can do is challenge and see the player either find it within himself to rise to the occasion (see: Hazard, J.Cole, etc.) or tuck tail and run (see: De Bruyne, Lukaku, etc.).  That's his story anyway.

"You can ask them why they want to leave the club and if they're honest all of them will say it's because they don't want real competition. They don't want to have some big players with them fighting."

"The players and the agents would like this - 'Oh I need five matches in a row to prove myself'. You don't need five matches in a row. You need 10 minutes. In 10 minutes you can show me if you are ready or if you are not ready. Kurt Zouma didn't have five matches in a row."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Mail

"In 10 minutes it's difficult to score a Maradona goal - to get the ball in midfield, dribble past 10 guys and score - but that's not what you're expecting from a player. You can show you are mentally ready, you are physically ready, you are ready to cope with the pressure, you aren't the kind of guy that is ready to train and play against kids of your own age but not to play at a high level."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Guardian

So the challenge is clear.  Whether you agree with his methods or not, Mourinho's challenge to all his players and especially the youth and most specifically Ruben Loftus-Cheek is clear.  Prove yourself.

It's not too late.

"Let's wait and see [if RLC has learned his lessons from Australia]."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Mail