Roman Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in 2003 and brought with him a ruthless mentality. The Blues were to be a serious club under his ownership. They would buy the best players, hire the best managers and win trophies. The Russian oligarch delivered on his promise within a year of buying the club too. He sanctioned a massive summer spending spree, brought Jose Mourinho to the club as manager and saw his new team lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in the club’s history. Everyone was happy.
However, Abramovich’s ruthless drive toward success came at a cost. The demands for instant gains saw the club lose something valuable—time. Nobody had time anymore; managers did not have time to work and players did not have time to grow. Chelsea countered the former by developing a trigger-happy policy, hiring and firing coaches as per its requirements. The ‘player’ part of the problem was much easier to solve: just buy the best ones!
The academy suffered. No player could make it into the first team where the demands were too high. No manager would put their faith into properly developing a youngster because they did not have much time.
Then came Josh McEachran.
McEachran had been a part of Chelsea since 2001. He was a boy when he joined the academy and looked very much like one when Carlo Ancelotti handed him his debut. Those who followed the Blues’ youth teams would have seen him coming, given the talent he possessed. However, the fanbase as a collective still must have been surprised seeing him replace Yossi Benayoun in a Champions League match. There was a personal milestone that was achieved for the young Englishman.
"“I had the chance to go to Real Madrid or Man United. Real Madrid had the contract waiting for me and they wanted all my family to fly over but I said, ‘No, I want to stay at Chelsea.’ I was a Chelsea fan. I just believed in myself that I was going to make it.” – McEachran"
The midfielder’s inclusion in the senior team several more times led many to believe that the tides of change had arrived at Stamford Bridge. But as we now know, that turned out not to be the case.