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Chelsea - Getting a Return on Your Investment!

Chelsea - Getting a Return on Your Investment!

It has long been a bone of contention, especially amongst the members on this site that our youth system is failing, that we're not bringing enough players through with regards to the capital being invested in our academy and its subsequent infrastructure.

Sitting in the office today, I came across an old Chelsea yearbook, issued for the Centenary season of 2005/2006.

Flicking through its pages and wistfully recalling the various games covered in the previous season review, I soon found myself navigating to the pages reserved for the reserve and youth teams.

Looking at the group photo it dramatically proves the point that I started this article with.

If we take a look at the reserves first, the line-up is as follows:-

Joe Tillen, Adrian Pettigrew, James Younghusband, Steven Watt, Michael Mancienne, Jimmy Smith, Danny Hollands, Lenny Pidgeley, Yves Ma-Kalambay, Phil Younghusband, Dean Smith, Joe Keenan, Anthony Grant, Filipe Morais, James Simmonds

Fifteen players who all had high hopes of being the next John Terry, high hopes of coming through the ranks and securing a Chelsea future. Worryingly, only Michael Mancienne looks to stand any chance of doing such a thing. The rest have already, or are about to, be consumed by clubs who are active away from the higher levels.

So what about the youth team of the same year? Do things look any better? Are any of those pictured in the team photo destined for great things? Let's take a look at the names of those pictured:-

Scott Sinclair, Jack Watkins, Shaun Cummings, Harry Worley, Sam Hutchinson, Fabio Ferreira, Ricardo Fernandes, Tomi Saarelma, James Russell, Nick Hamman, Rhys Taylor, Dean Furman, Hamze Ismail, Jack Cork, Liam Bridcutt, Ryan Bertrand

Interestingly, a far higher percentage of those listed above are still actively involved at Chelsea, a higher percentage still have their dreams intact and a higher percentage who might follow that path taken by John Terry.

However, if you were to conduct a quick overview, it would appear that the problem of turning youthful talent into first team talent hits the rocks somewhere between the natural progression from the youth side to the reserve side. Is it a step too far or is that the precise stage whereby emerging talent fails to convert into what's needed to really succeed in the professional game?

We'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

But, perhaps we should also point out that since the period we've focused on; matters have slightly changed as far as young talent is concerned at Stamford Bridge. A system whereby players are loaned out, to other clubs providing valuable first team experience for several of those considered to be reserves, is now common-place, this in turn allows the youth players to play at a higher level. Often the reserve team contains numerous youngsters pitting their wits against far more seasoned professionals.

Also, it's been recognized that the current 'reserve' league system isn't conducive to developing emerging talent, there are far too games with some of these games being against limited opposition. Last season saw the introduction of some top-notch friendly fixtures with the side encountering clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and AC Milan who they'd not normally encounter.

On the surface it can only be good for the development of these players and hopefully it'll move us away from the scenario this article highlighted whereby from the 2005/2006 handbook only Michael Mancienne from the reserve team squad has a cat in hell's chance of sustaining a first team career at Stamford Bridge.

If not, it wouldn't be hard to find a 'bean-counter' who'd give you a strong case for closing the academy facility and using finances it drains to simply go out and buy that one player.

Some food for thought anyone?

For the very latest Premier League odds

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday July 2 2009
Time: 3:35PM


What abt Borini, Nouble and Mellis?
02/07/2009 15:42:00
Ohh sry, they joined later!
02/07/2009 15:42:00
It is probably easier to build nuclear reactors that correctly predict and govern youth talent into fully fledged footballers. I must admit I do not believe in the system forced on clubs by UEFA having to develop talent themselves. It seems to me that talent is best nurtured at smaller clubs. But honestly, I have no idea and certainly no answers. But I do know one thing, Chelsea is not the only club with this problem, all big clubs have it today I would say. Some are lucky and develop some players like the Beckham generation at Man U or the Messi generation at Barca that turns into the envy of all clubs in the world, but look at Arsenal - they let youth through, but that has cost them being true title-challengers. I simply have no idea how to solve this, but one thing stands out. They must play games, at their own level or slightly tougher. Loaning out does not seem to do the trick, so the PL and FA should sit down and solve this with proper leagues for youth and reserve team players, as JM and the Whiner suggested.
02/07/2009 16:16:00
I'd say loaning them out runs the risk of developing bad habits!
02/07/2009 16:37:00
I reckon the biggest jump is that from reserve level to first-team, and that's where we get the big problems of having loads of promising players who can't even make it onto our bench, so have to be shipped out on loan, are soon forgotten about, and end up joining Plymouth or Scunthorpe when they're 23. We've yet to fully allow the new youth system, with Frank Arnesen in charge, develop, and there seems to be a few promising names waiting for a chance in there. Let's just hope that Mr Ancelotti is given the support of the board, which means he can in turn take a couple of risks by giving the youth a chance.
02/07/2009 19:27:00
We never had the world's best academy. We didn't even have the best in London. So before we had success, we had a harder task motivating players to come to us. It makes perfect sense that as our success on the pitch and our youth facilities improved, so did the standard of player (and the reputation of our academy). That's why we now have players like Gael Kakuta, Jeffrey Bruma and Fabio Borini - top qualiity youth players who will have a good career - hopefully at Chelsea.
02/07/2009 19:32:00
I agree that our youth system is not the best, I think we should continue what we are doing and when a young JT comes along we should encourage them. But to be honest it doesnt matter that our youth system is not the best, we all know the best youths come from West Ham, the two manchester clubs and Everton, so why try and compete? We are better off getting some good scouts in and purchasing young talent when they are nearly peeking we could learn a lot from guys like Arsne Wenger and Fergie, two great signings for them were fabragas and ronaldo...In this sense i think Ancelloti is as good as these guys, look who he brought to Milan...Kaka and Pato ring a bell?
02/07/2009 22:20:00
Yer agree westlondonblue, but surely, Mancienne is a young John least he is the closest thing we have had in a while!
02/07/2009 23:55:00
I'd like to see Jack Cork given a chance this year. He's a very good player with great awareness. Cork, Mancienne, Sinclair and Stoch should be getting at least one sub appearance between them each game.
03/07/2009 10:30:00
Corks a CB/DMC so, I guess he has double the chance of being picked!
03/07/2009 10:45:00
WE've got some top youth coming up.. Im sure we will have some real gems playing fo rus soon.
03/07/2009 15:59:00
The 2005/6 intake was prior to Arnesen's proper involvement and only a year after Cobham was built. If things happened the way some idiots here want, those players would have developed into 23 year olds by now! It's just stupid beyond measure. Look at Barcelona. I hear that Gai Assulin, who has Zahavi as an agent and we were apparently interested in poaching, is now being released by them. There is no magic formula. They don't have it. Arsenal don't have it, because their juniors are coming through and they're all ****e. Even going as far as Fabregas, did you know that Arse's results were worse when he played compared to when he didn't? Also that Arse's biggest and most humiliating defeats were when he started. Utd also didn't get Ronaldo as a youth player. He arrived with senior appearances in Portugal. All the development was done there NOT at Carrington.
07/07/2009 01:38:00
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