This time last year, Callum Hudson-Odoi was about to head out the door and leave Chelsea for the (supposed) greener pastures of Bavaria. It looked like Chelsea were about to make another massive mistake and waste another incredible homegrown young talent.
But against all odds, the tide slowly turned, even with Bayern Munich apparently ready to pay upwards of £40m for the kid. Hudson-Odoi helped key a second-half revival in Sarri’s season, and while he was unable to take part in its culmination thanks to an unfortunate Achilles injury, that injury proved something of a blessing in disguise as well, as it helped along the Chelsea contract talks. Eventually, Callum signed a new long-term Chelsea contract, and it all seemed good.
Except Hudson-Odoi has not been performing up to the the level of his previous performances, let alone the lofty expectations placed on his 19-year-old shoulders. Such growing pains are to be expected with teenage superstars, regardless of their potential or their pay packets, but that hasn’t stopped the conversation turning overly negative around the young winger.
One of the first lessons professional athletes should learn is to ignore social media and the constant nonsense of fickle fans, but apparently Callum has taken a peek. So now he doubly needs our support, as head coach Frank Lampard is imploring as we head into 2020.
“I think it’s a lot at 19 to say with one performance you must produce instantly or you’ll get social media criticism, and I’ll certainly protect him against that.
“Little snippets like at Arsenal, coming on and looking bright and going by people, he can do all that. He does need to show more but he absolutely will do and we’re right behind him.
“I’ve not spoken to him about that specifically and unfortunately on social media that’s par for the course. That’s something unfortunately that you’ve got to have a very thick skin about.”
Callum’s one of our own and we must protect him.
Of course, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. He shouldn’t be coddled. He needs to perform to (reasonable) expectations. But we know he can, so we just have to have a little bit of patience. He is just 19, after all, younger than any of the other regulars in the first-team squad, and with generally less (senior football) experience than any of them as well.
“He’s a young player, 19 and only just. We actually do have to give time and patience given how young he is. I’ve got no problems with him and I’m very pleased with how he did at Arsenal. That should be a nice little boost for him.
“The Chelsea fans will get behind him, they want to see passion and they want to see all the other things as well as the ability to go by people, which he’s got. So he needs to understand what’s needed but I’ll back him and work with him on that.”
“He signed a really long contract here, he wants to be here, we’re happy with him but now he has to produce. Maybe we’re asking too much from him at 19.
“But his consistency needs to be how he works, how he trains every day and how much pressure he puts on me to put him in the team. From all the conversations I’ve had with over the last few weeks, and I’ve had a few, he understands what he needs to do on and off the pitch. And I will certainly stick with him.”
-Frank Lampard; source: FourFourTwo
Hudson-Odoi has been making regular appearances off the bench, with the odd start sprinkled in, and that will probably continue as he rediscovers his feet after such a drastic injury as a torn Achilles. He’s got a long and fantastic career ahead of him; let’s not mess that up.