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Lest We Forget


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For many watching the Reserves game last night it was no more than a diversion, a passer of time between now and the nail biter against Barca, but for one Chelsea player on the pitch it was a last chance saloon moment and Ricardo Quaresma did just about all he could to be remembered. I admire him for it, because you can never legislate for the company you keep in the second string and, if the rumours are right and he is out of favour here, Riccy Q had to have a decent bunch around him in his hour and a half of need. He did and, as a team, they played some pretty good stuff against a Spurs side challenging to win the Reserve League. So this topic is not so much in praise of one talented individual who gave a crowd pleasing performance, topped off with one glorious run and cross for the first goal, but about five others who look to me as if they will make the grade with us rather than end up [once more in the winger’s case] under the gimlet eye of someone like Jose Mourinho.

Before wading in with names to back my prediction, a mention has to be made of Michael Mancienne, Miroslav Stoch and Franco Di Santo who have almost clawed there way out of football’s equivalent of purgatory and already knocked on the pearly gates of first team heaven. We’ve moaned a lot about not seeing a great deal of them, by way of advancement, yet we know them to be there, or thereabouts, and fully expect Mancienne at least to get loads of games next season. Give it another twelve months and the following three may not be too far away from a similar position…

1. Jeffery Bruma - the best young defender I’ve seen at the club in a long while, including the early years of JT and the recent years of Mancienne, and it might even be doing him a disservice to compare his talent to that of Des Walker in his prime. When and where this 17 year old fits into the first team squad is anyone’s guess, but he will and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s within the time span I’ve set.

2. Patrick van Aanholt - his versatility puts him on a higher level than other defenders in our ranks and yesterday he moved seamlessly from full back to central defence when Sam Hutchinson started limping and had to go off with a quarter of the game left. He’s aggressive, in an Eddie Mac sort of way, and takes a great free kick. A year or so older than Bruma, his first team chance may take longer due to Ryan Bertrand being ahead of him and established stars like Yuri Zhirkov being mooted for a move, but he will surely make the grade with us and we would be foolish not to sign him long term.

3. Jacob Mellis - very impressive again last night and someone who offers something different as an attacking midfielder who is deceptively quick. Sadly, Michael Woods injury has set him back in the Lamps comparison stakes and this boy looks capable of moving into that enviable heir apparent position. As with Bertrand and Van Aanholt, there is midfield competition already loaned out in the league in the shape of Jack Cork and Lee Sawyer, but, as Stoch has almost proved, you don’t necessarily have to take that route to be top of any list.

Conspicuous by absence in the past, apart from Carlton Cole, we never seem to unearth decent strikers anymore. That’s why catching a glimpse of a natural goal scorer [which Carlton is not] in the Reserve ranks is so encouraging. Even though he may still be some way away from the finished product, Fabio Borini does begin to look the part - a right nuisance of a forward who also seems to have that priceless gift of being a bit lucky. He alone, amongst the barnstorming Frank Noubles and pacy Adam Phillips, has that busyness of arrival at the right place at the right time followed by the coolness of finish. He is totally different to the rest and, despite the probable signing of Daniel Sturridge - in the Didier understudy role - I hope his style of play has a future with us and gets him a long term contract too.

Finally, an honourable mention for the teenage goalkeeper, Jan Sebek, who looks as big as Petr and has a real presence about him already. Bearing in mind the number of keepers (4) on the books at Academy level alone, maybe we don’t need to consider further back up, especially if they all have similar attributes to Sebek. The home grown Rhys Taylor is ahead of him and it is important to point out that, of those named above, only Mellis fulfils the 6 plus 5 criteria that could soon darken the Premiership door and blight a lot of foreign opportunities with its shadow. Only time will tell, but meanwhile the future is bright if these youngsters are anything to go by.

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A very optimistic piece there, Dorset. Hope you're right about these young players. I haven't given the reserves a good look this season, and my one proper look at Mellis in the Youth Cup Final (when he was sent off) was far from favourable, but it's great to see that Hiddink has seen enough talent to put him on the bench.

Our problem, when it comes to giving youngsters a chance, is that every game in every competition is a must-win match. The pressure on the team and manager to win is unrelenting, so there's virtually zero scope for risk-taking and experimenting. The situation is made even harder for both manager and youngsters because our squad is so chock-full of highly paid internationals who need to be kept fit, motivated and involved - and you don't do that by ignoring them and chucking in a few kids for the sake of experience.

It's a really difficult situation, but it's fair to say that Fergie manages it pretty well, whereas Jose, AG, BFS and now Guus have rarely if ever been in a position to use the first team to develop players.

I love the fact that we take all competitions seriously, but sometimes I wish the managers would show a bit more faith in the youngsters, especially when a few of them have had plenty of experience on loan.

I don't know what the issue has been with Quaresma. I'd like to have seen him more involved than he has been, especially after his stunning cross up at Coventry that set up Alex.

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bruma has impressed me everytime ive seen him. he does look a fantastic prospect and i would love to see him make the first squad. isnt he still only 17 though? i remember him getting in the ressies at 15 i think

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bruma has impressed me everytime ive seen him. he does look a fantastic prospect and i would love to see him make the first squad. isnt he still only 17 though? i remember him getting in the ressies at 15 i think

You're right on both counts, dkw, and, you never know, that may be another similarity (as well as style of play) with Des Walker - I think Brian Clough gave him his Forest debut at the age of 17 or thereabouts.

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It's a question that's been asked quite often on here already (along with every single league match thread)

No one really knows what's going on, but it's fair to see it's very likely we won't see him playing for Chelsea again.

A huge shame in my opinion, but Hiddink knows best I guess.

:/

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  • 4 weeks later...

I don't really understand the Quaresma situation at all. When he has come on, he has looked good and at least brought a different element to our game.

If its a question of his attitude, I fail to see why someone who doesn't bring the right mindset for the first team can look so eager to give 100% in the reserves

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  • 3 weeks later...
A very optimistic piece there, Dorset. Hope you're right about these young players. I haven't given the reserves a good look this season, and my one proper look at Mellis in the Youth Cup Final (when he was sent off) was far from favourable, but it's great to see that Hiddink has seen enough talent to put him on the bench.

Our problem, when it comes to giving youngsters a chance, is that every game in every competition is a must-win match. The pressure on the team and manager to win is unrelenting, so there's virtually zero scope for risk-taking and experimenting. The situation is made even harder for both manager and youngsters because our squad is so chock-full of highly paid internationals who need to be kept fit, motivated and involved - and you don't do that by ignoring them and chucking in a few kids for the sake of experience.

It's a really difficult situation, but it's fair to say that Fergie manages it pretty well, whereas Jose, AG, BFS and now Guus have rarely if ever been in a position to use the first team to develop players.

I love the fact that we take all competitions seriously, but sometimes I wish the managers would show a bit more faith in the youngsters, especially when a few of them have had plenty of experience on loan.

I don't know what the issue has been with Quaresma. I'd like to have seen him more involved than he has been, especially after his stunning cross up at Coventry that set up Alex.

There you go, BB, young master Sebek has just got himself a squad number!

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  • 3 months later...

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