Chelsea has been heading towards using more and more youth this season. Why delay their inevitable ascendancy to the starting lineup?
Many questioned Frank Lampard’s subbing on of Billy Gilmour with the Sheffield United match in the balance. But the kid played no part in the dropped points (the senior players did however). It was simply a testament to Lampard’s commitment to the young players who have earned their chance. Starting Fikayo Tomori was another indication of that.
It is part transfer ban, part Lampard, but the club is currently undergoing a youth revolution. For the first time in recent memory, young players are being given opportunities not because they are young, but because they have actually earned the chance and are actually being given the opportunity over senior players.
Tammy Abraham has largely already replaced Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi. Mason Mount has already made himself a locked on starter. Tomori and Reece James will both be starters on their current trajectories. The youth are inevitable. Which raises one simple question; why wait?
Lampard largely already accelerated Mount and Abraham’s introductions and it has paid off. And if James and Tomori are already destined to be starters, why wait to make them starters at all? After all, Chelsea’s best players in this young season have been the young players. The seniors are the ones that have left Lampard and the club down.
Young managers who succeed with young teams often struggle initially as they make the transition from the previous side to the new younger side. Once that transition is over, things are rosy. So with the young players already outperforming their older peers, there is little reason for Lampard to wait to bring Tomori and James into the fold. Or other young players for that matter.
This is not a call to blast the older players into the moon. No, they will still be very necessary to mentor the young players and to rotate in as needed. But the spine of Chelsea is poised and ready to be made nearly entirely from academy graduates. The club has avoided the transition long enough and with the transfer ban and a transitional sort of season, they might as well flip the switch entirely.
The only real question is what to prioritize for who. On paper, it makes sense to use the kids in the cups and let those chips fall where they may. After all, Champions League qualification is the be all end all if trophies are not possible. But that may be the wrong way to go about it with the senior players letting Lampard and the club down in the Premier League.
It sounds crazy, but Chelsea probably can make top four on the backs of Abraham, Mount, James, and Tomori with the way the former three have played and the way the latter is expected to play. But where they may be lacking is in the guile needed in cups. That is where the seniors can fit in for Champions League, League Cup, and the FA Cup (with the latter two involving youthful debuts depending on the opponent).
These players are going to be starters sooner or later. The sooner it is, the faster the club can stabilize and the better these players will be. So no more delays, the revolution is inevitable and should begin right away.