With the World Cup hurtling towards its conclusion more and more days of the week have become freed up with no live football to watch. Attentions have duly turned towards the return of club football for 2014-15 and whilst Chelsea’s first team aren’t set to return until Monday, the younger generation are already back and raring to go.
At this time of year the potential stars of the future can look forward to trying on their new attire and footwear whilst many of them will be taking their first steps into full-time scholarship life. A class of fourteen put pen to paper earlier this week – you can read more on them in due course here at TheChels.net – but in essence many of them are merely making official what they’ve been doing for two years under the club’s education and scholastic programme enabled by the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Additionally, four 17 year-olds have graduated to earn their first professional contracts and so Jeremie Boga, Kasey Palmer, Brad Collins and George Brady all tied their immediate futures to the club this week. They join Charly Musonda, Ola Aina and Charlie Colkett in doing so, with that trio having penned theirs at the earliest possible opportunity last autumn.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has extended his own stay for a while longer and George Cole is believed to be joining him, but it’s also time to say goodbye to those who have come to the end of their time as academy youngsters. Sam Hutchinson, Milan Lalkovic, Adam Nditi, Daniel Pappoe, Ambrose Gnahore and Chike Kandi will now all embark on the quest to establish themselves in the senior game and our best wishes go to them in making the next step. Perennial loanee Jhon Pírez is also now believed to be a free agent following his successful promotion campaign with Spanish third tier side CD Leganés.
There has also been a much-publicised change in the coaching ranks with Dermot Drummy ‘moving upstairs’ to become the new Head of International Coaching. The newly-created role will see the veteran youth team coach take up responsibilities overseeing Chelsea’s international coaching and education programme which stretches from involvement as far west as the Caribbean and as far east as New Zealand and the Philippines, where former academy brothers James and Phil Younghusband have been involved in spreading the blue word.
Double Youth Cup winning Under-18 coach Adi Viveash steps up to replace Drummy and freshly armed with his new UEFA Pro Coaching License will undoubtedly be looking forward to the challenge. His former deputy Joe Edwards now takes full charge of the Under-18s and he will be assisted by academy graduate Jody Morris; the pair worked together at Under-16 level last season and are an assured and very talented pair to take the team forward.
The pre-season fixture slate begins next weekend with a busy schedule for both new managers and a now-traditional trip to Austria included in the middle. The full breakdown is as follows:
Under-21s: Sutton United (A) July 12th, 3pm; Aldershot Town (A) July 18th, 3pm; Red Bull Salzburg (A) July 29th, TBC; Crawley Town (A) Aug 2nd, 3pm; Brighton (A, Behind Closed Doors) Aug 5th, 4pm; Derby County (A, Behind Closed Doors) Aug 10th, 12noon
Under-18s: Bournemouth (H) July 12th, 12noon; Luton Town (H) July 19th, 12noon; Red Bull Salzburg (A) July 29th, TBC; Swansea City (H) Aug 2nd, 1pm; Brighton (A, Behind Closed Doors) Aug 5th 2pm; Under-18 Festival featuring Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa (H), Aug 7-9.
As always you can keep right up to date with the latest academy goings-on here at TheChels and on Twitter @chelseayouth.