Chelsea: The Age Old Question…..

Some 18 months ago now, TheChelseaBlog was talking about the need for us to introduce some of our younger players into the first team.

We’ve been relying on the same, ageing players for several seasons and for me, the concern was that unless we started to bring maybe one or two younger players through each season, then firstly we could end up in a situation where several of our key players needed replacing at the same time, weakening the first team beyond anything we could realistically sustain. Secondly, and a point talked about last summer, we could actually risk losing some of these players if we offered them loan spell after loan spell with no real indication we were serious about bringing them through.

So, fast forward to where we’re at now and having done the double with those ‘ageing’ players and opening this season in blistering form, you might think those concerns were a little premature? Well, you might think so but if you look at the collection of players we have, particularly key players, and the similarity in their ages, the possibility of their form fading around similar stages has to be a consideration.

Didier Drogba, even not fully fit looks in great form and it’s awesome right now but turning 33 before the end of the season, how much longer can we expect him to perform at this level? Frank Lampard, the same as Drogba, 32 already and another big, big player for us. Nicolas Anelka, 31 – maybe not one we rely on as much as Didier but he gave us 15 goals last season we definitely rely on him in Drogba’s absence. And Ferreira, whilst a bit-part squad player really is yet another 31 year old.

Players with potentially a little more time on their side could be Florent Malouda (a pretty energetic looking 30), Ashley Cole and John Terry who both hit 30 this season., although Terry’s fitness is already suspect and whether Cole will actually see out his career at Chelsea remains to be seen.

So, onto that crop of youngsters TheChelseaBlog thought we’d risk losing a year ago – and guess what? Well, we sold Sinclair (21) to Swansea, Miroslav Stoch (20) to Fenerbahce, released Rajkovic (21), Franco Di Santo (21) looks to be off for a loan spell to Wigan, Nemanja Matic (22) looks to be off to Bologna for a spell and Michael Mancienne (22) was recently rumoured to have put in a transfer request after two spells on loan at Wolves.

And as if to capitalise on our inability to truly bring young talent through the ranks, Bayern Munich are apparently waiting to tempt Gael Kakuta (19) away from Stamford Bridge with the offer of first team football. Remember him? The player we thought was worth serving a transfer ban for – where is he exactly? Because by the sounds of it, if we don’t at least start seeing him appear on our bench soon, we might start seeing him on Bayern’s.

So was I really worrying prematurely? Well, whilst I realise that players like Scott Sinclair didn’t make it through because they didn’t have what it took in the end and maybe Rajkovic was a bit of a loose cannon, I can’t help thinking that players like Mancienne – who has looked capable at Wolves and Di Santo – who hasn’t looked quite so capable at Blackburn would be better served in and around a higher quality of player to bring their game on.

And whilst I also appreciate we still have a good crop of young talent at the club in players like Bruma, Borini and McEachran amongst others, I only hope we get to see a bit more of them before we lose them.

13 Responses to “Chelsea: The Age Old Question…..”

  1. We have won the league four times now. On both the first and last occasions the team mainly consisted of “mature” players, and the other two occasions, players were mostly on their way to being classed as mature.
    When we did have a team of youngsters “Drake’s Ducklings”, we did well in cup competitions, but did not have the stamina for the long league season.

  2. How many did Santo score last season at Blackbean?
    They get released because they are not up to the grade, just like Slow Cole who can’t even tackle properly now.
    The real loss is Ballack as we will soon find out when tougher sides come to SB, now he is wasting his time at Leverkusen.

  3. Ranners, maybe this is true for Di Santo, but Stoch did do well in Holland.

  4. Totally agree with what you are saying, however out of the promising players we have let go in this pre-season, none of them really stood any chance of making the grade.

    Sinclair – Didn’t stand out at Wigan.
    Di Santo – Barely scored at BlackBurn
    Stoch – Did well at Twente by all accounts, but not up to Chelsea’s level

    Mancienne, I’m undecided about. I’ve always had high hopes for him, but not 100% sure he’s good enough. Perhaps at right back, but from what I’ve seen Bruma will get the nod first. If it’s centre back he wants, he needs to spend some time in the gym and beef up.

    Which brings me on to the youngsters who stand a chance of playing next season. It is absolutely imperative they get games, and not just in the Carling cup. Carlo needs to be ruthless and in my opinion, sell Kalou as a minimum and look to juggle our two young attacking talents with Anelka and Malouda.

    Bruma – Physically bigger than Mancienne. Ready to deputise at centre or left back. Carlo has been quoted as saying Percy won’t be replaced and that Bruma is his replacement. Needs to be on the bench, minimum, every game.

    Kakuta – Needs a run of games in the team now. At the very least should be deputising Malouda and Anelka. At the most, should be picked in front of Kalou who in my opinion needs to be sold.

    Sturridge – Also needs a chance to play. Looked great against United and did wonderfuly last season in the FA cup. Should be deputising Anelka / Drogba.

  5. Yes that is true about Stoch, maybe he was seen as too small for the PL – he did seem to be a good player though………..

  6. Ballack is no real loss, because we have the signing of Ramires. Ramires can kick people in the shin just as well as Ballack – but he is faster, better passer, finisher, etc.

  7. I think it’s time 2 give d younger ones a chance though d first team players are still proving themselves worthy,but atleast in irrelevant match they can feature bcos confidence is needed.I’ll make a special plea 4 gael kakuta,d guy hv a gd potencial.Dont allow bayern 2 reap where they did nt sow

  8. I think the biggest of them all is kakuta, though he has not live for beryan, but i beg accelotin to start play that young man, we should be seeing him in our bench. Please CARLO.

  9. I think that kakuta is better than kalou and that he should play instead of him and sturridge should also play when anelka or drogba are tired , and if we buy neymar 100% we will have to sell kalou

  10. With Bruma, Matic, Hutchinson, Van Aanholt, Borini, Ramires, Kakuta and now possibly Neymar, we should have a fair amount of youth regularly making the team sheet. I think our main worry should be our youth not getting enough quality time.

    We rely very heavily on Drogba, but he may only have a couple of high quality seasons left in him. I would love to see Kakuta and Neymar together up front to see what some quality youth can do.

  11. What we really need is for Kakuta and Sturridge to be first choice subs instead of Kalou. Kalou isn’t getting better, but both of them have much more potential and might even become first team players for us. They both fit the Anelka and Malouda roles nicely.

  12. Kalou is a reliable squad player and scores important goals when you need them. We should let the younger players play in the league cup. Now the squad is smaller they should get more game time anyway .

  13. The league cup is all well and good, but these players need experience in competitions that matter.

    Kalou is a limited player. True he weighs in with a few important goals off the bench each season, but so could Sturridge and Kakuta.

    Sturridge and Kakuta are more direct, aggressive players than Kalou – exactly what Chelsea need in those matches where we’re searching for a goal out of nothing.