Chelsea Academy In A Time Of Lockdown

June 14, 2020

It’s been three months since everything shut down. Ordinarily a thriving, energetic hub of promise, innovation and teamwork, Chelsea’s Cobham training ground has been reduced to a skeleton operation where the first team are only just getting back to business, but for the academy, everything has changed. How do you run a youth development system remotely? Well, you adapt. You find a way, and you return to your principles. For…


Academy Season Review: Under-18s

May 9, 2020

In any ordinary year, you might look at this Chelsea Under-18 team as being just as dominant as many of their predecessors were. They’re FA Youth Cup Semi Finalists due to host Manchester United for the right to play in yet another Final (with a decision on whether the competition continues or not still pending) before Covid-19 intervened, and with just two defeats and three draws in the league, they…


Academy Season Review: Development Squad

May 8, 2020

The season ended prematurely and in circumstances nobody saw coming back in August but, for Chelsea’s Development Squad, 2019-20 was memorable in so many ways. They might yet be crowned PL2 champions – that’s a decision for another day – but whether they’re officially awarded the title or not, going unbeaten in all 18 league matches up to the start of March when action was brought to a halt is…


In Their Own Words: Chelsea’s 2016 UEFA Youth League Winners

April 18, 2020

Five years ago this week, Chelsea became the first English club to win the UEFA Youth League, beating Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 in the Final. Four years ago today, they retained it – becoming the first and only title holder to successfully defend their crown – in a dramatic 2-1 win over a much-fancied Paris Saint-Germain team. Here, with thanks to and Chelsea TV, is how they did it, in…


Developing On and Off The Pitch

April 13, 2020

Frank Lampard’s youth revolution at Stamford Bridge has been one of the talking points of the now temporarily(?) suspended 2019-20 campaign but, as exciting as the on-pitch development has been, it’s just as fascinating looking at his backroom team. Chelsea have been consistently successful in developing coaches for the future just as much as they have players; some might indeed argue that they’ve been even more successful in that regard….


Whatever happened to…the Academy Class of 2011?

April 5, 2020

By the time the academy class of 2011 signed their scholarships and began their journeys to professional football, the Cobham revolution was already well underway. Neil Bath and company had been given a remit to build Europe’s best youth development system in 2005, soon after Roman Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea, while 2008 saw the opening of the new Academy and Community Building on ‘the other side of the road’ at…


My Favourite (Academy) Match: The 2014 FA Youth Cup Final

March 31, 2020

With real football on pause, we’re afforded an opportunity to reflect on the past, more so than usual. Let’s look back at one of my favourite all-time academy matches; the 2014 FA Youth Cup Final Second Leg between Chelsea and Fulham. The Background Six years ago, the academy wasn’t quite the trophy-laden winning machine it became throughout the rest of the decade, but it was firmly on that trajectory. A…


On Armando Broja and Development

March 24, 2020

Exactly one year before Armando Broja made his Chelsea first-team debut against Everton, he was a second-half substitute for a toiling Under-18 team heading for a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, who were about to end the academy’s four-year reign as South section champions. Far from showing glimpses of the potential that would see him become one of the club’s twenty-five youngest debutants, he was so far off the radar that…


The Loan Report: Taking Stock

March 18, 2020

There was almost no loanee action last week, and there will none for the foreseeable future, as the Coronavirus public health situation continues to develop around the world. With the regular Loan Report therefore on hiatus, it provides us with a useful opportunity to take stock of this season’s army, and consider what lies in store for everyone when football eventually resumes. A Blue Tomorrow? Every loan army group can…


Academy Debutants – Who’s Next?

March 16, 2020

When Armando Broja entered the field of play at Stamford Bridge towards the end of Chelsea’s handsome 4-0 win over Everton a fortnight ago, he became the eighth academy debutant of Frank Lampard’s maiden season in charge. The Albania Under-21 international followed in the footsteps of Mason Mount, Reece James, Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, Ian Maatsen, Marc Guehi and Tariq Lamptey in what has been a record-breaking campaign for academy…