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Mixture of youth and experience is key to Chelsea’s future


By Guest Writer Bharath Ram.

Roman Abramovich usually gets what he wants. Back in 2003, he wanted Chelsea to win every title that was possible to win, and he was willing to pay any price for it. Apart from winning the Champions League, you have to say he has been pretty successful in that just as he has been in his business through which he has amassed his £11 billion fortune. Fast forward seven years and the scenario has completely changed. Now he wants Chelsea to be self sufficient. He wants players from the youth academy to supplement the players in the first team. Whether Roman is going to be successful in his new dream remains to be seen. But is it the way forward for Chelsea?

Looking from outside it might look as if Roman has suddenly become a sensible man. Or probably the recession has affected him just as it had done everyone else. But once you learn how much he has invested in the youth structure, the new training ground at Cobham, it is pretty obvious that all these were planned from the moment he took over from Ken Bates in 2003. Roman Abramovich has quite literally changed the face of Chelsea Football Club. He has spent some £700 million of his own money for Chelsea knowing probably that he might not get that back.

Chelsea FC is a business organisation making a turnover of nearly £250 million each year and losing nearly £40 million. It is not viable for such a business organisation to lose that kind of money every year. The club has also the highest wage bill of £140 million in the league. That is one of the reasons behind the reluctance to give Joe Cole his reported £120,000 a week wage demands. Gone are the days when players were awarded huge five year contracts. But in his drastic measures to cut costs is he going to sacrifice the growth of the club?

Chelsea has a fantastic youth academy which many people are unaware of. And one of the reasons for that is Frank Arnesen, who is currently the Director of Football. He is widely acclaimed as one of the best in that business. It might seem that he has not done a lot during his 5 years with the club. That is mainly due to the fact that Chelsea could always go out and buy a player for a position instead of developing them because of which young players from the academy didn’t feature in the first team and were constantly sent out on loan to a lower league club. Not anymore. Ancelotti has recently said:

“The only sure thing will be that next season there will be five academy players in the squad. Some players will maybe move on. It’s not because we don’t have the money, it’s because we want to give strength to our academy. We have very good young players and this is the time to put them in the squad for next year.”

The players from the reserves that Ancelotti mentioned are Gael Kakuta, Nemanja Matic, Fabio Borini, Patrick Van AanHolt and Jeffrey Bruma. All these players have already featured in the first team this season and they have not disappointed. They are second to none when it comes to skill on the ball, technicality and pace. The one thing they lack is match experience. Whether they can step up in crunch situations remains to be seen.

The five players tipped to leave could be anyone of Belletti, Ballack, Carvalho, Ferreira, Deco and Joe Cole. It is worth noting that apart from Joe Cole every player is above thirty. A fact that has been mentioned time and time again in the papers is about the squad’s age and finally the clubs hierarchy seems to have heard it. But with age comes experience. All these players have huge experience and will losing them all in one summer affect the squad?

Arsene Wenger has made Arsenal a role model for other clubs trying to be self sufficient. They bring players from the academy. Play football the way it is meant to be played and have a wonderful stadium which seats in 60,000 every home game. As a result they have developed massively as a business organisation, recently going as high as fifth in the Deloitte Rich list, second only to Manchester United in England. All this is well and good on paper but when you look at what they have won in the last five years, it is as full as their player’s experience. They have gone backwards as a football club.

That is the situation Chelsea have to contemplate. Achieving a balance between youth and experience. It is vital that Chelsea get the balance right.

Are Chelsea fans happy to see the club introducing more youth players? Or do you think it will effect their chances of winning silverware? Please leave your comments below…

Thanks to Bharath Ram from Chelsea FC – True blue

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