In a recent interview with newspaper La Nacion, 1978 World Cup-winning coach Cesar Menotti said: “A manager is the chief of a command troop. He must prepare the soldiers, and use them accordingly. If the manager knows that a soldier is good with the pistol, but then puts that soldier in the kitchen and sends the cook to the battlefront, then he’s a moron.”
The first rule of a manager is to find footballers who represent his ideas. The players are then the ones that defend his footballing philosophies. The managerial merry go round at Chelsea has seen the club being coached by the best of coaches in world football. The likes of Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Guss Hiddink, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Rafael Benitez, Roberto Di Matteo, Andre Villas-Boas and Antonio Conte have all graced and sat on the managerial hot seat at Stamford Bridge. But one challenge that eluded them all despite the successes enjoyed during the reign of some of them has been the inability of any one of them to successfully explore the huge potentials in Chelsea’s richly-assembled academy. They all failed to smoothly see to the transition of the academy players into the first team.
The vast majority of these young players be it homegrown or bought are being sent on loan every season, but yet they never get a chance in the first team no matter how well do they during their loan spells. Why? Because every manager buys the players he feels can help him deliver the results demanded from him by the club’s power brokers.
In recent years, we’ve seen a quite a number of these young players leave the club for regular football action. The likes of Mo’ Salah, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Patrick Bamford, Dominic Solanke, Jeremie Boga and many others left because of limited opportunities. The big question now is: Will Maurizio Sarri buck the trend and succeed where all his predecessors failed?
The pre-season signs gives optimism with over 10 youngsters joining his team for the new season training regimen. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Marcin Bulka, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori, and Ethan Ampadu might just be the next rated stars to make the first team. Let’s hope that Sarri will be the one to explore the huge potentials of our successful academy.
Keep the blue flag flying high. Cheers!