It wasn’t supposed to go this way.
The path was clear. Two seasons ago Tammy Abraham went on his first loan and set the Championship on fire with 23 goals in 41 appearances for Bristol City. The next steps were clear: Premier League loan, bang in a bunch more, and then play for Chelsea.
Would that life were so neat and tidy. The ancient Greeks knew better. Πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου they wrote, hundreds of years BCE. We use different letters but the sentiment stays the same. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.
Duly loaned to Swansea, a dreadful team that scored a mere 28 goals total in the Premier League on their way to relegation, Tammy netted just five times (eight in all competitions) and only started one league match after the calendar rolled over to 2018.
A setback. His Premier League credentials still unearned. The next steps were not so clear suddenly.
Sarri says he is unable to guarantee Tammy Abraham a spot in the side and it's up to the striker if he wishes to go on loan. Sarri adds that if the youngster stays, he will be happy. #CHEBOU— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 31, 2018
In the final days of the loan-transfer window, what followed was a step back down to The Championship with Aston Villa. As England U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd says, that’s just the way it goes for young players, even someone who’s earned two senior caps like Abraham has and who scored twice to help England win the Toulon Cup for the third time in a row.
“Very rarely do you get a players’ development that is on a smooth upward path. It is up and down, a rollercoaster. With Tammy, he has had an opportunity, he’s played [for the senior side], he’s got his cap, but now it’s about getting his head down and fighting his way back into that position.
”That’s just the beginning for him, not the end of it. It is a goal reached but now it is a question of how he can get 10 caps, 20 caps, 30 and so on. Tammy has had a taste of it and now he needs to fight his way back.”
-Aidy Boothroyd; source: Daily Star
Boothroyd’s words echo Chelsea loan liaison Eddie Newton from a couple years ago, when he was urging caution after Abraham’s hot start at Bristol City. The young striker worked through the inevitable dip in form then, and he’s responding to the current adversity with similar confidence.
“This year I would like to push on. If I get 20-odd goals again, people will see me as a proper goalscorer. Bristol City was an unbelievable season. I made a breakthrough. It helped going into Swansea last year but now I’m looking for more.”
Unlike his experience in Wales, this time Tammy will be around men he’s already played with, the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Jack Grealish, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Axel Tuanzebe. Villa is already a more comfortable environment. Also helping is that he seems to be buying what manager Steve Bruce is selling.
“When he called me on the phone, he told me he needed me. He is excited to get me on board. You can tell he is a fantastic coach. I’m privileged to work with him. He sees this team moving forward and I see the same. It’s really exciting.”
-Tammy Abraham; source: Birmingham Mail
All the right words. Now it’s time for the right actions.
“We have an individual plan for all of them and see where they are every six months. There is work going on behind the scenes on who is doing well, who is doing not so well and who is having adversity in their career.
“Tammy might be part of that but he’s got to fight his way back. That is part of any players’ tool kit. Mistakes happen and you’ve got to be able to live with them and move on and turn them into positives.”
-Aidy Boothroyd; source: Daily Star
Your serve, Tammy.