Some will say that it was merely Grimsby Town, from the midtable of League Two. Clearly not the same standard of opposition Chelsea face on most matchdays. But the 7-1 victory should still underline the fact that we are witnessing a very different path being taken by the club this season, and seeing how glorious that future could be.
New head coach Frank Lampard is the obvious figurehead for this youth revolution, but as he’s stressed repeatedly before, his efforts build on the amazing work down by the Academy over the years.
“In many ways, I am only as strong as the coaching staff we have.
“Neil Bath and Jim Fraser in the Academy have got a lot of recognition this week which has been a long time coming, because their work has been going on for a lot of years. The good ethics of these players coming through is a huge credit to them. Now myself and us as staff have to continue that good work at this level.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
While the Academy has always produced at a high level, the confluence of Lampard’s willingness to give minutes to the youth, the club’s transfer ban, as well as the sheer quality of young players in this generation has created a near ideal situation for unearthing the latest young stars.
An incredible 10 young Blues in this photo went on to be professional footballers, and six are still at Chelsea!https://t.co/0EnUfqh7rI— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 27, 2019
The latest to be singled out for praise has been Fikayo Tomori, who’s quickly risen to first-choice in central defense, especially while Antonio Rudiger continues to deal with various injuries.
“I think the fact we are seeing a great number of [youth players] on the pitch speaks for [their quality].
“As a group yes, there is a lot of work ahead of them. The step into the first team is the easier one, now it’s about staying in it. They all seemed very comfortable [against Grimsby]. It was a different game to a Premier League game, but they are confident lads. They have every grounding and base needed.”
“Maybe [the landscape has changed]. I know Arsenal for a long time have played young players in some competitions. I only want to speak to ourselves, you can’t walk away from a transfer ban.
“There is competition in there, Tomori is now number one or two as it stands. They are really playing well. Age isn’t a huge story.”
Despite all the emphasis on youth, one youngster who has fallen down the pecking order in recent weeks has been big-money signing Christian Pulisic. While it’s easy to forget that he’s also just 21, the expectations and attention surrounding him, especially in the United States, has made his lack of involvement headline news.
But like many players arriving to the Premier League for the first time, Pulisic needs a bit of time to adapt, and a bit of patience to let him do so at his own pace. With Chelsea’s injury situation improving and the team already showing plenty of promise, Pulisic should get the required time to settle in properly. Sure, some players adapt immediately. Others may need a year or so.
“I have got four wingers now that they are all fit. It’s normal to have an adaptation. He has shown some good moments. We must give him a bit of time to adapt because of youth, change of league and living. They are all different, have different pathways. We know he has played in the Champions League.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
The fourth winger fit is of course Callum Hudson-Odoi, who returned to first-team action on Wednesday after many months out with an Achilles injury. The 18-year-old was far from his best, but that will surely come as he becomes more and more involved.
“I will be careful with Callum considering the type of injury he had, but that’s not to say he can’t play a major part in tomorrow’s game, or a slightly lesser one. I will have to see and pick the team on its merits with a bit of Callum’s injury situation in my mind.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Patience will be key this season, not just with Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi, but with the rest of Lampard’s youthful Blues.