The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance

Today Chelsea loanee Pat Bamford fired ‘Boro past current Premier League Champions Manchester City in the FA Cup. Bamford is one of the leading lights of no less than 28 players that are on loan from Stamford Bridge.  Being one of the top players on loan from Chelsea, why do I see a future away from the Bridge for him?

Only rivalled by Will Hughes Patrick Bamford is the top young talent in The Championship. After a successful loan spell at Derby County last year Bamford now finds himself at promotion contenders Middlesbrough. Situated 2nd in the Championship he has scored 11 goals in 26 appearances for The Boro this term. With a player obviously playing so well and brimming with potential why do I see his future anywhere but at Stamford Bridge?

Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring against Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth round at the Etihad.

Every home-grown player from England has a cross to bear. They are ‘the next Beckham’, ‘the new Scholes’ and so on. There is no room for originality and more often than not players fade under the intense media and fan scrutiny that is put on them. If I were to count the amount of truly world class English players that would get on any team in the world the only name that springs to mind is Wayne Rooney. Say what you like about him but he possess the star quality coupled with a fantastic work-rate and a killer instinct.

Expand the boundaries and look at every player Chelsea have on loan. Thorgan Hazard, Lucas Piazon and  Marco van Ginkel are the names that stand out. Do they have a future at The Bridge? Extremely doubtful . The only player that may regularly feature would be Thorgan Hazard due to his wonderful football ability (obviously), but particularly the fact his brother is the main man at The Blues. That isn’t saying that Thorgan is more talented or gifted than any other player out on loan from Chelsea, that is just how football works sometimes.

Chelsea, last year, were missing a prolific goalscorer so they bought Diego Costa. They needed a star turn in central midfield so they bought Cesc Fabregas. Finally, they bought a left-back to shore up their defence in Filipe Luis.

Josh McEachran was playing Champions League football for Chelsea at the age of 17. Following successive spells on loan at Swansea, Watford, Wigan and Middlesbrough he now finds himself at Vitesse Arnhem, Chelsea’s feeder club in Holland. You could say that the burden of expectation got to him and it is an exceptional case?

McEachran has made 8 appearances for Vitesse since his loan move in August.

McEachran has made 8 appearances for Vitesse since his loan move in August.

Tomas Kalas is an exciting young centre-back that has been in the Chelsea ranks since the summer of 2010. Now aged 21 he has only appeared for Chelsea four times. He is quite young so he has got a great chance to develop but with the arrival of 20 year-old centre-back Kurt Zouma it is unlikely his time will ever come at The Bridge.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen buck this trend but then again they have only played three times for Chelsea this season compared with 11 appearances for Zouma.

This is a trend that is repeated again and again in England. Too often teams are more willing to dip their hands in to the transfer kitty than nurture players to their full potential. Who could blame them? The Premier League and Champions League are the two trophies most coveted by English clubs so why should there be room for sentiment? Football is a cut-throat business so you can forgive giants like the Manchester clubs or Chelsea allow Patrick from down the road have a crack when they can buy somebody who would convert a sniff of a chance.

The system deployed in England is fundamentally flawed and the loaning out system does not work. Look to Germany, look to Spain and you can see the implementation of second teams for a club in lower divisions works wonders. Castilla, the Real Madrid ‘B’ Team is coached by none other than Zinedine Zidane*. What kid wouldn’t want that type of tutelage? And it is exactly that type of tutoring that a top English club should offer.

A survey from CIES Football Observatory in October 2014 documented the amount of players coming through the academies of the big five leagues in Europe. Each team was given a point if they had a home-grown player in their squad or if a home-grown player was playing in one of the big five leagues in Europe. A player has to have been at a club at least three seasons between the ages of 15-21 to be defined as home-grown. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona and Real Madrid are first and third respectively. Manchester United are in second position thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson’s ethos of developing players through the academy. We have seen Louis van Gaal reach in to the academy this season but it is hard to see them as anything but stop-gaps until they buy more commanding defenders.

Manchester United have 12 players in the squad of 2014 that came through the academy while Arsenal have seven. This is well and good but the two teams were unsuccessful in Europe last year, and Arsenal won only their first trophy in nine years as well.

Chelsea and Manchester City are joint 45th on the list by virtue of having nine and 11 players playing in other big five clubs respectively. They have three players and only one respectively again in their squad of 2014. Manchester City won the Premier League last year and Chelsea finished four points adrift while reaching the semi-final of the Champions League.

This only reinforces the fact that success can be achieved by buying players who are the finished article rather than giving time to young players to improve and play at the highest level. If the development system is not looked at seriously and changes are implemented, gems like Patrick Bamford will fall through the net and languish in The Championship for the rest of his career.

Independent thinkers like Andrej Kramarić need to be commended for putting football over money. Heavily linked with a move to Chelsea the man from HNK Reijka chose first team football with Leicester over a big move to the London side. Scoring 37 goals in 42 games for the Croats he understands a move to Chelsea means successive loan spells with no real first team opportunities. Will we see more like him? Probably not.

Will we see him be a Premier League success?

More than most top club loanees can say, probably.

*Zidane is coming to the end of a three-month ban for not holding the required coaching licence but there is no reason to suggest he won’t retake the helm when he has served his ban and acquires the proper qualifications.


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