We’re getting to the point where praise for Édouard Mendy may start becoming just a bit overblown, but let’s enjoy the good times while they last and worry later about a possible (eventual? inevitable?) regression to the mean, which hopefully will be slight if and when it comes.
Five straight clean sheets for the first time in a decade. Narrative.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) November 4, 2020
Following fifth (5th!) straight clean sheet and sixth (6th!) in his seven starts total for Chelsea Football Club, Mendy was an obvious topic for post-match interviews last night, but he was also a topic for a BT Sport pre-match interview with none other than technical
director advisor-player Petr Čech.
Čech, as we know, was instrumental in the club choosing to go after the 28-year-old Rennes man — who was warmly greeted after the match by all his former colleagues — but we shouldn’t forget to give credit to one Christophe Lollichon as well, who first brought the goalkeeper to Čech’s attention way back in 2017, when Mendy was just starting to rebuild his career.
“I have to give credit to Christophe Lollichon who spoke to me about him three-and-a-half years ago when Edouard started playing for Reims. The one thing which is great about his story is obviously his year where, because of the fault of his agent, he was without a club. While I was playing at Arsenal, he said, ‘Watch this goalkeeper, he has a very interesting story.’ So I started following him.”
In his role as technical advisor, Čech cast a wide net as he searched for someone to help Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero — a search that began last summer already, apparently. But he kept returning to Mendy, especially with Chelsea unable to spend the big bucks on someone like Jan Oblak after committing a similar amount to Kepa already.
Lollichon’s advice was (in)famously ignored in 2018, when Chelsea were scrambling to find a replacement for Thibaut Courtois. Čech wasn’t going to make the same mistake.
“We wanted to add to our goalkeeping group a slightly different type of keeper. We have Kepa and Willy Caballero, who every time we needed him was ready to step in and we decided with Kepa going through a difficult moment where things were not happening for him on the pitch, we decided to add to our goalkeeping group and we agreed to bring in Edouard. So far, he’s been doing great.”
“[...] Obviously you watch all the other goalkeepers as well. I have watched 30, 40 different goalkeepers over the past year and a half, but I kept following Edouard and you see his evolution and progression every year, it got me the idea when we talked about what we want from a goalkeeper, what we would like to add to our goalkeeping group, his name came to my mind.
“The manager has a big input. The club and the scouting has his input and we all agreed he’s the goalkeeper we should get over.”
Mendy’s already equaled Čech’s own debut record of three straight clean sheets in the Premier League, and he now has six in seven in all competitions. The next challenge from the club legend for the new man is to keep that going. Čech began his Chelsea career in 2004-05 to the tune of 7-in-8, eventually collecting 29 in all competitions (including a record 25 in the Premier League).
“In my first eight games [at Chelsea], we had seven clean sheets. If he [Mendy] gets that and makes it better, I will be happy, because the team will do well and we will be winning, and this is ultimately what we want.”
Can history repeat itself? One clean sheet at a time ... well, why not?