When the FA Cup third round draw pitted Chelsea against Morecambe, Blues fans were excited at the prospect of seeing even more of their academy’s gems in action against the Ligue 2 side.
Until match day it looked like manager Frank Lampard was going to deliver. Midfielder Billy Gilmour was due to start, and five academy starlets – Tino Anjorin, Lewis Bate, Henry Lawrence, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Tino Livramento – have all been invited to train with the seniors.
The excitement died down when Chelsea revealed their roster, however. Gilmour had a start and Anjorin was the only youngster to be offered a place on the bench, with Lampard opting for a solid squad instead.
It was a bold move on the part of the boss, whose aura is largely built on his desire to play young players. To get by, he needed an almost perfect performance from his elders, and it’s safe to say that he got it.
Of course, blooding more young players in blood is a good way to appease fans, but Lampard has shown he has his clear priorities by sticking to his regular first-teammates and allowing them to rebuild their confidence with a win. comfortable and full of purpose.
Chelsea have lost their mojo in recent weeks, winning just one of their last seven games before Morecambe’s game. The team was in trouble and big money signings like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were really in trouble.
Instead of creating some excitement around Soonsup-Bell or Bate, Lampard recognized the importance of getting Werner and Havertz fired. Sure, it might not be as exciting in the short term, but it could hardly be more important in the long term.
It was a decision that paid off very quickly. Chelsea were having fun from the first whistle against Morecambe, with Werner, Havertz and newly arrived compatriot Hakim Ziyech spending a lot of time on the ball.
We saw Werner scoring Chelsea’s second goal, Ziyech helping third and Havertz scoring fourth, ending long stretches with no significant impact for all three players. Accomplished job.
Admittedly, it was perhaps a little disappointing not to see more young people from the academy. When you’ve got three or four goals clear, it’s a great time to give them at least a minute of action, especially birthday boy Soonsup-Bell, but Lampard had good reason to stay hyper-focused on the relaunch of its senior team.
Chelsea fell to ninth in the Premier League and Lampard found his job on the line. There is no point in planning for the future, as he might not even be there to see it if he does not understand the present.
We won’t go so far as to say that Werner, Havertz or Chelsea as a whole are “back”. They were a Ligue 2 team after all, and Morecambe gave an excellent account of themselves, but Chelsea had a job to do and they did.
The Blues will have enjoyed playing football for the first time in ages, and now that spirits are high, Lampard will be confident to kick off another impressive run of form in the league.
Chelsea youngsters still have plenty of time to take a few minutes but Lampard needs to focus on the first team right now. Solving the problems there is her top priority.
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