As ever, there are many story-lines to follow at Chelsea, most of which this season involve the rising youth revolution and its various main characters. There’s Tammy Abraham, lighting up the goalscoring charts. There’s Mason Mount, Frank Lampard’s proverbial son. There’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, back from major injury. There’s Christian Pulisic, assembling. There’s Billy Gilmour, the next wave. And so on.
And then there’s Fikayo Tomori, who remains the quiet one, the flying under the radar one, even after his England call-up earlier this month. That is of course a gross oversimplification, as narratives usually are.
Been at chelsea since I was 8. Now I am 14, 6 years and this is just the beginning. Dream; Believe; Achieve— Fikayo Tomori (@fikayotomori_) July 8, 2012
Tomori has started ten of Chelsea’s last eleven matches in all competitions, and the last six in a row since getting a breather against fourth division Grimsby Town in the League Cup. That puts him as high a priority on the teamsheet as Kepa Arrizabalaga, César Azpilicueta, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Jorginho. The untouchables. For now.
None of them are strangers to playing heavy minutes, having done so for either Chelsea or their loan clubs, and Tomori’s no exception. He was one of the minutes-leaders in all of European football last season, when he played nearly every minute of Derby County’s promotion-challenging campaign under Frank Lampard while collecting several England U21 caps as well. In fact, only nine players (including goalkeepers!) played more minutes in 2018-19. (Kepa was Chelsea’s leader with 5309 minutes; he was 14th on this list.)
But just as importantly, and probably quite appropriately, none of them are strangers to hard work. That’s why — combined with good performances — they’re keeping their places in the team, after all, as Tomori explained after Saturday’s 4-2 win over Burnley.
“The key to our form is the hard work on the training pitch. Everyone is really focused and we try to work hard every day and implement what the manager is trying to make us do every week. It is a lot of hard work, focus, determination and that will to win, and we have a good mix of experience and young players who are gelling together a bit more now.”
It’s not rocket science. It’s putting in the necessary work, with the necessary attitude, and then applying it during game with the necessary focus and determination. Everyone’s highly talented at the top end of the professional game. It’s the little details that tend to make the big difference.
Of course coaching, tactics, and the mood of the football gods play their roles as well, but those are out of the players’ control. For them, the focus is on training, playing, recovering. One game at a time, as the time-tested cliche goes, especially during winning (or losing) streaks.
“We just want to keep playing well, we want to keep on winning games and winning is a habit.
“Further on in the season, who knows where we can end up but we are just focused on every single game as it comes. We focused on Ajax and won that, we were focused on this one at Burnley and now we are focused on Man United in the Carabao Cup.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: Chelsea FC
As a wise man once said, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become values, and values become destiny. Here’s to destiny!
But first, the next game!