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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Chelsea have overshadowed Man United’s greatest achievement with £160m worth of talent

  “You’ll never win anything with kids ”, Alan Hansen said on Match Of The Day after Manchester United lost their opening game of the season...

 

“You’ll never win anything with kids”, Alan Hansen said on Match Of The Day after Manchester United lost their opening game of the season, in 1995. Fast forward to the end of the season and they won the Premier League plus the FA Cup trophy.

The kids in question were the likes of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and more. Manchester United’s youth talent and the sides that followed in the years after 1995 determined a certain legacy and era under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The names that were so unfamiliar to Hansen then would go on to win numerous titles, doubles, trebles and climb to the pinnacle of English football. As a youngster, I grew up watching this side.

You wanted to support Manchester United and be behind a homegrown side, that had a visible passion for the club. It was instilled in them and that translated onto the pitch.

There is longevity with homegrown, youth talent that is rare to find in foreign exports. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a nationalistic and patriotic plea to always put the young English players first. We all know that solely relying on them won’t work.

But, the youth prowess Chelsea displayed in the 4-0 Champions League win against the Italian giants Juventus should spark a debate on how we should at least try giving them a chance more.

Speaking after the midweek win over Juventus, Joe Cole spoke on BT Sport about why Trevoh Chalobah is an example of how the academy at Chelsea works now, “He’s an example of the academy because he’s such a good character," he said.

“The club they instil that philosophy and belief in the players from a young age. As they get older and go out on loans, he’ll take experiences from Ipswich, Lorient and it’s like a university for football. “You produce a player like Trevoh, whose now playing in the Champions League and not looking out of place.”

Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount, Calum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - just five names alone who came through the academy system and are thriving in the first-team squad.

According to Transfermarkt, those players are worth around £160m. In the past, there have been rightful criticism of the way Chelsea utilised their youth system - Cobham has been a huge source of income for them.

They have been criticised for ‘farming’ their players in a way that was to develop them, send them off on a string of loans and then sell them for a decent fee down the line. It’s allowed them to spend a huge sum of money on international and more established talents.

But, there clearly has been a change and shift in the way the club are thinking and approaching their integration of academy players into the team. Noticeably under the short but in hindsight impactful tenure of Frank Lampard.

As, a former player and academy graduate himself - albeit from West Ham United, Lampard understood the value of young players. When he managed Chelsea he put that ethos in action and time into developing the youngsters at Cobham.

Players who were on the fringes before and barely given a look in are now playing for the first team. Take Tammy Abraham, who thrived under Lampard and scored for fun last season, filling in just fine as the club's main forward.

Thomas Tuchel thankfully hasn’t abandoned the youth players like it would be easy to do. They deserve a first-team place and are more than capable of playing at a top club like Chelsea at the highest stages and competitions.

At the weekend, Chelsea faces Manchester United and where their blueprint on using the youth system prowess has depleted, Chelsea’s has gone from strength to strength. But, one thing United did do is incorporate that young talent into the core of the team for years.

That's something only time will tell for the futures of these young, Chelsea stars. Will Chelsea build the future of this team around the youth already in the first team or go and spend elsewhere and see them all leave one by one like Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham this summer?

Chelsea’s youth system has always been commended, but only now are we starting to reap the rewards of it through integration, support and guidance. I say long may it continue as they are proving to be chipping in with the bulk of the club's success in recent seasons.

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