The Cobham Kids had matched The Busby Babes with their fifth consecutive FA Youth Cup title last season (not to mention a seventh consecutive finals appearance in what was an historic quadruple-winning season for The Morris Mites), but there will not be a sixth after last night’s dramatic 4-3 loss in the opening round of this season’s competition — be sure to read @chelseayouth’s match report or here’s the official website’s version.
In perhaps a fitting twist, it was Manchester United who put a stop to Chelsea’s five-year winning streak in the competition, thanks in large part to a hat-trick from Mason Greenwood, who looked every bit as good as some of Chelsea’s best and brightest over the years.
And this competition certainly has provided an excellent platform for many to showcase their talents. Even before the now historic run, Chelsea had won it in 2010 (McEachran & Co.) and 2012 (Chalobah, Aké, Piazon & Co), and since then we’ve come to know the likes of Lewis Baker, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Dom Solanke, Jérémie Boga, Charly Musonda, Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori, Ola Aina, and Jay Dasilva, all of whom are off on grand adventures in senior men’s football these days (some even at Chelsea!). More recently, the names Mason Mount, Reece James, and Callum Hudson-Odoi have entered the youth folklore. And I’m sure I’m forgetting many, many more (and ignoring some of the more high profile failures like Islam Feruz).
This year’s squad, under first-year head coach Andy Myers and captained by rising star Billy Gilmour will not repeat what those immediately before them accomplished, at least not yet in this competition, but if winning was the only aim of the youth and development teams, we would’ve dressed Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu again instead of preparing them for a Men’s Senior League Cup quarterfinal against Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Chelsea have won 7 of the last 9 FA Youth Cups. We can give someone else a chance for a year.
The fundamental principle that the success of the last few years is the exception, not the rule. They're not exactly struggling either, they've lost three matches against two of the country's leading academies. Perspective.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) December 17, 2018
For the U18s, the focus will now be on the U18 Premier League, where the Blues are locked in a three-way fight with Spurs and Arsenal for top spot in the South (Chelsea are currently third, three points behind Spurs in first and one point behind the Gunners in second), as well as the U18 League Cup, where Chelsea are into the knockout rounds after finishing second in their qualifying group to, incidentally, Manchester United. The Blues are also going well in Europe, with a Round of 16 match against Monaco coming up in February. Chelsea dispatched Sweden’s Elfsborg 9-0 on aggregate in the previous round.
Despite the loss, it’s been another banner year for the Academy, with the promise of much more to come — maybe even in terms of graduates continuing to establish themselves in the first-team!
That draws 2018 to a close for the academy on the pitch. Across #CFCDev, #CFCU19 and #CFCU18 we've seen 52 wins and just 15 defeats, almost 200 goals, an Under-18 quadruple, a UEFA Youth League Final, a Checkatrade Trophy Semi Final, first-team debuts and so much more. Onto 2019.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) December 17, 2018