Chelsea youth team have won the Under-18 Premier League south section title, and will now compete with Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal and Reading for the seven-game mini-league which will ultimately crown the national league champions.
Speaking on their journey so far to winning the Under-18 Premier League south section title, Chelsea youth coach Jody Morris told the official Chelsea website: “After a slow start, we began to build momentum, not only going on an unbeaten run but with the level of performances we were producing. Where we had conceded a lot of goals in the first four games, we tightened up all over the pitch, defending better from the front, making ourselves a lot harder to beat in midfield one-on-one situations and protecting our goal a lot better so we were happy with how stable we looked as a team.
“Since Christmas, we have mixed that attribute of being hard to beat with playing some attractive football but the only thing we felt we weren’t doing so well was finishing chances. Even after beating Brighton 13-0 recently, it’s still an area for improvement and we know we will have to be more clinical if we want to go and beat the other top sides. There’s always room for improvement and that’s one of the things we demand from the boys.
“We’ve looked at previous years and asked can we win more games, score more goals, get more clean sheets, go on a longer unbeaten run than those teams. The boys have responded to things like that and it certainly gives you something to aim for. We’re never 100 per cent happy but the lads know that about us now and they deserve all the credit for what they’ve gone out and done so far this season.”
He then revealed how he urged the team forward after beating Brighton 13-0.
Morris said: “After the 13-0 win against Brighton, it would have been easy for us to give everyone a big pat on the back and talk about the goals we scored but in our match review we felt it was more powerful to show how many times we had won the ball back and how we looked hungry to score again and again. It was something people who watched the game mentioned to me afterwards, how they couldn’t believe how hard the players wanted to work even though the game was won at half-time.”
The Blues have finished third in the elite merit group in each of the past two seasons, albeit balancing that with lifting silverware in the Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League. With our absence from the latter this season, Morris believes his side have every chance of being crowned national champions in May.
“I want to see a response from the players against teams they don’t know so well. In previous years we’ve not done so well in this stage of the competition because we’ve had to balance it with knockout games in the Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League and maybe that was too big an ask for the players involved in all three competitions.
“This year we don’t have the Youth League and I think if we can keep the same level of performance as we have shown in the south section, we’ve got a chance of winning it. We know how tough the likes of City and United will be but those are the challenges you want to face and hopefully we’ll see a side to the boys that we haven’t seen yet coming up against that level of quality.”