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Youngification


Tim W

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I was thinking about Rannas the other day and how Bates reckoned he was going to take us to the next level, etc and had to admit he made some good buys and brought down the average age of the squad he inherited. Seems to me we’re approaching a similar situation whereby be it AG or someone else we need to bring in some youth into the first team squad and even the first team. Unlike Rannas, AG or Mr New has a few home grown options waiting in the wings who deserve to be given a chance. Twelve of the current squad are 29 or older, of these two are keepers, three defenders, three midfielders, and four strikers. Now I’m not saying all those above a certain age must go, we all know you need a good mix, but out of the current squad a couple of players will leave because they’re not starting, some the manager does want and others because they are unhappy for one reason or another. Below is a squad list sorted by age. Personally I reckon Carlo, Didier, Sheva, Pizzaro, Malouda, Bridge, Ben Haim, Sidewell will all leave. Out of our current crop of youngsters Mancienne could replace Ben Haim, Sinclair could replace Malouda, Sahar could replace Pizzaro and Jimmy Smith could replace Sidewell. If you see the amount of games Ben Haim, Malouda, Sidewell and Pizzaro have played this season replacing these with youngsters is not unfeasible. Personally I would replace Bridge (I’d rather Cole left and Bridge stay, but that’s beside the point) with Bertrand, maybe a risk but the lad has been doing well at Norwich by all accounts so why not. If we made Hilario number two, we could bring in Rhys Taylor, but saying that he is young and with Cech’s injury rate of late I would prefer to buy another keeper with a bit more experience. This means we would need to replace Carlo; Drogba; Sheva. Roman is kind puts15 million to the 40 you made selling the players mentioned above. 55 million on three players who would they be:

I’ve knowingly left out Boulahrouz from this because I don’t think he’ll be coming back and I’d imagine he’ll go on a free.

Who would I buy, not my job, but at the risk of being called a noob I would really look around Scotland, England and Ireland; I think we have enough foreign flair and need a little bit more grit. Of course the possible style, formation have to be considered but I’d go for Bentley as one of the three.

The likes of Stoch, Sawyer Hutchinson, Bridcut would of course be given a first team number and be a part of the overall squad.

And finally I’d expect at least one cup and a CL place from the new younger squad listed below and depending on the additions perhaps the PL title.

Now:

Claude Makelele 35

Carlo Cudicini 34

Henrique Hilario 32

Andriy Shevchenko 31

Michael Ballack 31

Juliano Belletti 31

Didier Drogba 30

Ricardo Carvalho 29

Frank Lampard 29

Claudio Pizarro 29

Paulo Ferreira 29

Nicolas Anelka 29

Ashley Cole 27

Florent Malouda 27

Wayne Bridge 27

John Terry 27

Joe Cole 26

Tal Ben-Haim 26

Shaun Wright-Phillips 26

Petr Cech 25

Michael Essien 25

Steve Sidwell 25

Alex 25

Branislav Ivanovic 24

Salomon Kalou 22

John Mikel Obi 20

Average age: 27.7

After:

Claude Makelele 35

Henrique Hilario 32

Michael Ballack 31

Juliano Belletti 31

Ricardo Carvalho 29

Frank Lampard 29

Paulo Ferreira 29

Nicolas Anelka 29

Ashley Cole 27

John Terry 27

Joe Cole 26

Shaun Wright-Phillips 26

Petr Cech 25

Michael Essien 25

Alex 25

Branislav Ivanovic 24

Salomon Kalou 22

Jimmy Smith 21

Mikael Mancienne 20

John Mikel Obi 20

Ben Sahar 19

Scott Sinclair 19

Ryan Bertrand 18

Average age: 25.6

Who would you add?

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I was thinking about Rannas the other day and how Bates reckoned he was going to take us to the next level, etc and had to admit he made some good buys and brought down the average age of the squad he inherited. Seems to me we’re approaching a similar situation whereby be it AG or someone else we need to bring in some youth into the first team squad and even the first team. Unlike Rannas, AG or Mr New has a few home grown options waiting in the wings who deserve to be given a chance. Twelve of the current squad are 29 or older, of these two are keepers, three defenders, three midfielders, and four strikers. Now I’m not saying all those above a certain age must go, we all know you need a good mix, but out of the current squad a couple of players will leave because they’re not starting, some the manager does want and others because they are unhappy for one reason or another. Below is a squad list sorted by age. Personally I reckon Carlo, Didier, Sheva, Pizzaro, Malouda, Bridge, Ben Haim, Sidewell will all leave. Out of our current crop of youngsters Mancienne could replace Ben Haim, Sinclair could replace Malouda, Sahar could replace Pizzaro and Jimmy Smith could replace Sidewell. If you see the amount of games Ben Haim, Malouda, Sidewell and Pizzaro have played this season replacing these with youngsters is not unfeasible. Personally I would replace Bridge (I’d rather Cole left and Bridge stay, but that’s beside the point) with Bertrand, maybe a risk but the lad has been doing well at Norwich by all accounts so why not. If we made Hilario number two, we could bring in Rhys Taylor, but saying that he is young and with Cech’s injury rate of late I would prefer to buy another keeper with a bit more experience. This means we would need to replace Carlo; Drogba; Sheva. Roman is kind puts15 million to the 40 you made selling the players mentioned above. 55 million on three players who would they be:

I’ve knowingly left out Boulahrouz from this because I don’t think he’ll be coming back and I’d imagine he’ll go on a free.

Who would I buy, not my job, but at the risk of being called a noob I would really look around Scotland, England and Ireland; I think we have enough foreign flair and need a little bit more grit. Of course the possible style, formation have to be considered but I’d go for Bentley as one of the three.

The likes of Stoch, Sawyer Hutchinson, Bridcut would of course be given a first team number and be a part of the overall squad.

And finally I’d expect at least one cup and a CL place from the new younger squad listed below and depending on the additions perhaps the PL title.

Now:

Claude Makelele 35

Carlo Cudicini 34

Henrique Hilario 32

Andriy Shevchenko 31

Michael Ballack 31

Juliano Belletti 31

Didier Drogba 30

Ricardo Carvalho 29

Frank Lampard 29

Claudio Pizarro 29

Paulo Ferreira 29

Nicolas Anelka 29

Ashley Cole 27

Florent Malouda 27

Wayne Bridge 27

John Terry 27

Joe Cole 26

Tal Ben-Haim 26

Shaun Wright-Phillips 26

Petr Cech 25

Michael Essien 25

Steve Sidwell 25

Alex 25

Branislav Ivanovic 24

Salomon Kalou 22

John Mikel Obi 20

Average age: 27.7

After:

Claude Makelele 35

Henrique Hilario 32

Michael Ballack 31

Juliano Belletti 31

Ricardo Carvalho 29

Frank Lampard 29

Paulo Ferreira 29

Nicolas Anelka 29

Ashley Cole 27

John Terry 27

Joe Cole 26

Shaun Wright-Phillips 26

Petr Cech 25

Michael Essien 25

Alex 25

Branislav Ivanovic 24

Salomon Kalou 22

Jimmy Smith 21

Mikael Mancienne 20

John Mikel Obi 20

Ben Sahar 19

Scott Sinclair 19

Ryan Bertrand 18

Average age: 25.6

Who would you add?

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I don't think the squad age is as big a problem as it was when Ranieri took over.

The way I look at it is like this - the spine of the team when Ranieri took over from Vialli was:

De Gooy - Desially - Wise - Zola - all of whom were on the wrong side of 30.

For the last few years, the spine of the team is very much along the lines of:

Cech - Terry - Lampard - Drogba - none of these guys are 30 yet (? maybe Drogba is).

I only see a problem (ie. complete squad overhaul needed) if Drogs and Lamps leave come the end of the season. Assuming they both stay, we should get another 3 or 4 good years out of both of them.

On the subject of youngsters coming through - I think that it is absolutely pointless having the scouting system we have and the academy setup in which so much money has been invested if we don't have places in the squad for youngsters.

I think squad spots like 3rd choice goalkeeper, 4th choice centreback, or 4th choice striker should be youth players who perform in the reserves. Ideally, I would not like to see any more signings like Sidwell, Ben Haim or Pizarro, who are pure squad players. These types of signings hamper our youth development if you ask me.

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I'm a bit concerned that the current young players that we think should be pushing the first team really aren't good enough. If you look at the standard we're at as a team we have the best players in the world over a ten year span, it's not that likely that we will have many youth teamers that progress well enough to break through. Of those listed, Jimmy Smith will not get anywhere near being a Chelsea regular. Mancienne, might make the bench as center half, but from what I've seen we wouldn't want to rely on him. Sinclair, I haven't got the faith that a lot on here seem to have - shouldn't he be regularly on the bench by now if he really is that good? Sahar, haven't seen enough to suggest he's going to be that good.

Obviously players all develop differently and for some being involved in the first team squad will see them come on leaps and bounds, but I think players that really are exceptional are involved regularly with the first team before they reach 20. That's not the case for those mentioned above.

Our youth team looks a bit more promising, there really genuinely seems to be some incredible talent there, we just have to hope that some of them continue to develop.

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I'm a bit concerned that the current young players that we think should be pushing the first team really aren't good enough. If you look at the standard we're at as a team we have the best players in the world over a ten year span, it's not that likely that we will have many youth teamers that progress well enough to break through. Of those listed, Jimmy Smith will not get anywhere near being a Chelsea regular. Mancienne, might make the bench as center half, but from what I've seen we wouldn't want to rely on him. Sinclair, I haven't got the faith that a lot on here seem to have - shouldn't he be regularly on the bench by now if he really is that good? Sahar, haven't seen enough to suggest he's going to be that good.

Obviously players all develop differently and for some being involved in the first team squad will see them come on leaps and bounds, but I think players that really are exceptional are involved regularly with the first team before they reach 20. That's not the case for those mentioned above.

Our youth team looks a bit more promising, there really genuinely seems to be some incredible talent there, we just have to hope that some of them continue to develop.

I've been pushing that point for ages. I tend to think of it this way...

Of the Chelsea best starting 11, most if not all are within the top 100 players on the planet

Of the Chelsea full 23 odd man first team squad, most would be within the top 200 players on the planet and at worst, the likes of Ben Haim and Sidwell are probably within the best 500 odd footballers.

Just to be one of the 500 best footballers on the planet is a huge acheivement, but that is basically a bare minimum to get anywhere near the Chelsea first team. The odds are very very very much stacked against a youth teamer being able to successfully break through. Sacrificing results to bring youngsters through earlier may improve those odds, but probably not as much as some here may think.

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Ok, when we signed Lamps 6 years ago, where would you have placed him? Top 500? So that means he was only a squad player right? Currently, he's probably in the top 20 worldwide. What does that tell you? These young guys in the reserves can become top players in the future, they just have to be given a chance and work hard. Its not everyday you find a Rooney or Messi in your academy, which is why these players are so highly coveted.

Lassana Diarra was supposed to be the natural replacement for Maka.

Robben was supposed to be the next big star, capable of reaching Zola-esque heights in terms of talent and popularity.

But then they got big-headed and started whining, leaving in the end. We had youthful talent, which, for one reason or another, were mismanaged (not necessarily by the club, mind)

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I think that one thing which will help us next season, and help with bringing youth players through the ranks, is the introduction of the 7 subs rule. That way, a couple of our players can be youth team prospects and not taking away the place of anyone overly important on the bench

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Ok, when we signed Lamps 6 years ago, where would you have placed him? Top 500? So that means he was only a squad player right? Currently, he's probably in the top 20 worldwide. What does that tell you? These young guys in the reserves can become top players in the future, they just have to be given a chance and work hard. Its not everyday you find a Rooney or Messi in your academy, which is why these players are so highly coveted.

Only a Rooney or a Messi could slot straight into the current Chelsea first team at 18 (or less) years of age and not have to be carried to some extent by the other players. Unless your talking about Cup ties to non-premiership opposition.

As for Lampard, he was a regular nailed on starter at West Ham when he signed, he cost us something like 8 million pounds or so did he not?. We were buying a starter and I do think he would have been within the top 500 footballers on the planet when we signed him.

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