It’s been another up and down week for Chelsea’s young loanees, with some finding success, others taking a rare back seat, and one or two falling at the hands of questionable officiating.
Just another seven days in football then.
We’ll start at the top, and with the good news. Michael Mancienne came off the bench for Wolverhampton Wanderers a week after being forced to sit out against parent club Chelsea and was involved in securing their first win since the opening day of the season.
In beating Manchester City 2-1 at Molineux, Wolves and Michael did Chelsea a favour in inflicting a second straight defeat on a title contender.
He only played the last seven minutes of the match but was notably involved in making a perfect tackle on Adam Johnson inside the penalty area which earned a roar of approval from the home crowd, and much enthusiastic approval from his teammates.
Earlier in the week he had started in Carling Cup action away to Manchester United in a slightly rotated side, and completed 90 minutes in a 3-2 defeat which saw Javier Hernandez score in stoppage time.
However, the England Under-21 captain may find it hard to get back into the starting eleven in the short term, as captain Karl Henry has returned from suspension, whilst Nenad Milijas has impressed in two outings against teams at the top end of the table.
Whilst Mancienne was in and out of the team, at least he saw some time on the pitch this week.
Championship pair Ryan Bertrand and Jack Cork were both left as unused substitutes on Saturday for Nottingham Forest and Burnley respectively.
Forest manager Billy Davies explained that Bertrand’s omission was due to the defence keeping a clean sheet in his absence last weekend, but it perhaps backfired as the Tricky Trees lost 2-1 away to a reviving Portsmouth.
Cork, meanwhile, was an injury doubt for the Clarets’ trip to QPR and was left out so as to not risk his fitness further.
In League One action, Conor Clifford started and completed the full match for Plymouth, who had a tough afternoon away to Oldham Athletic (who featured former Chelsea pair Dean Furman and Filipe Morais) on Saturday.
The Pilgrims were reduced to nine men before half time, but looked to be set for a hard earned point. However, two stoppage time goals consigned them to a 4-2 defeat.
Conor had a good outing, with his work ethic and commitment coming to the fore with everyone in white needing to compensate for the loss of two men.
Refereeing decisions also impacted upon Rhys Taylor’s Saturday afternoon for Crewe Alexandra, who lost their long unbeaten run in a local derby away to Port Vale.
The game swung fifteen minutes from time when the Welsh stopper conceded a contentious penalty. Justin Richards sprinted onto a loose ball, but Taylor came out to challenge him and appeared to get a good hand on the ball before any contact was made.
A rather harsh penalty was given, and scored, resulting in a 2-1 win for the hosts, and a rather disgruntled goalkeeper – who was recalled to the Welsh Under-21 team this week after a long absence from the squad.
For Ben Gordon, there was double duty this week, as Kilmarnock first lost to Rangers in midweek cup action, before rebounding well to soundly beat Hearts 3-0 at Tynecastle on Sunday.
Ben played every minute of both outings, and appears to have won his starting place back after a brief battle with Garry Hay.
In Holland, Vitesse Arnhem also saw more action this week, but only Nemanja Matic featured twice.
The Serbian started alongside compatriot Slobodan Rajkovic on Wednesday as they held Rajkovic’s former club PSV Eindhoven to just two goals in defeat (after their opponents had notched ten against Feyenoord), but was all alone on Sunday in a goalless draw away to NEC.
Rajkovic’s absence – after captaining the side in midweek – is the cause of some confusion. Vitesse’s website lists him as part of the team, but in the match report notes his absence, without reason.
Matej Delac once again sat on the bench on both occasions, but may benefit from a change of manager going forward.
Vitesse this week announced former Chelsea defender Albert Ferrer as their new man in charge, and whilst links between the two clubs have been made stronger as a result, there is nothing to say the move was instigated by Stamford Bridge brass.
As usual, we finish by checking up on Tomas Kalas in the Czech Republic. He was absent from Sigma Olomouc B’s weekend match, but more notably, he featured in the first team for the last four minute of last week’s 3-1 win over Bohemians of Prague.