Credit to Frank Lampard, he’s managed to jolt me out of my utter apathy towards the football that Chelsea (men’s) football club produce these days, though not because of the football itself. That’s still dire, with potential flashes of promise (which may or may not be actual flashes but we hope they are flashes because otherwise ... yikes to the next twelve months as well).
No, it’s because of what’s been happening with Carney Chukwuemeka, who’s hardly featured all season after coming over from Aston Villa precisely because he had hardly featured for them last season. So the 19-year-old was surely chuffed to not only be still going to the U20 World Cup, but in line to be one of the key players for an England team back in the tournament for the first time since winning it all in 2017 (with Fikayo Tomori and Dom Solanke starring).
But at the last minute, Chuk was pulled out of the squad, with caretaker boss Frank Lampard insisting that he had to stay behind to help us cover for injuries to other midfielders (N’Golo Kanté, Mateo Kovačić, Mason Mount). Well, “hopefully” cover. Wait, what?
“He is a Chelsea player and we have injuries in that area.
“One of the situations with Carney is that he has come into a big club. It is a big move for him. This season he has only managed to get so many minutes because of the size of the squad and settling into a new club.
“Hopefully there are opportunities in these three games for him. He is our player and while we have lost players, we need him to stay. There is a possibility he can join up at the end of the season if England get through to the next stages.
“There might be the best of both worlds in an ideal way. We had to make that decision. I felt a bit for Carney as he was keen to go, but at the same time it has happened and he had to stay.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
So, we held him back even though he was keen to go, but without really elevating his situation from what it had been all season?
So we held him back from three games at the U20 World Cup, where he was probably guaranteed at least two starts, for three absolutely meaningless games in the league where he still might not hope for more than a few token minutes like yesterday, against Manchester City’s B-team?
I’m not a fan of international football, but this is some highly questionable decision-making and reasoning. At least Lewis Hall, who was similarly (though for much more obvious reasons) held back, has gotten to start (and player well) in each of our last two games!
“When you’re a young player you have to wait your time or there are moments where you just have to understand. There’s a lot going on with Carney where he’s been here: I’m not the first manager he hasn’t got loads of minutes under. It’s been a season like that for him. I want to get him minutes because he’s not going to the World Cup but I have to think about my job.
“I thought he did well when he came on, I know it’s 10-15 minutes. He will get more minutes I hope in these next two games coming up then he may go to a World Cup after that and next season he can be a fantastic player going forward if he does all of the things he needs to do. I liked his performance.
“I said the other day, it’s a shame he couldn’t go away in a way. He’s a Chelsea player and we need him. He understood that well.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London