With the new season finally upon us, Premier League champions Chelsea kicked off the start of their title defence with a fantastic victory from a somewhat different looking squad.
Chelsea’s decision to sell experienced defender Ricardo Carvalho to Real Madrid will undoubtedly leave a gaping hole at the back of the Blues’ defence as the season progresses, and is a brave move from the club.
His understanding with John Terry and Petr Cech was almost telepathic, and provided the solid basis on which Chelsea built their success in the Abramovich era.
What is most notable however of the Portuguese defender’s departure from Stamford Bridge, is that he has evidently become another victim of Carlo Ancelotti’s wielding axe towards the ‘ageing’ heads in the dressing room. Carvalho joins the likes of Michael Ballack and Deco in heading for pastures new, while Joe Cole was also let go, although seemingly for other reasons.
Blues supporters will inevitably be thinking how this will affect Chelsea’s challenge for honours this season, and most will take the 6-0 thrashing of West Brom with a pinch of salt as more serious challenges lay ahead.
Judging by the summer’s events at Stamford Bridge, one may ask ‘is youth the way Ancelotti is willing to go this season?’
There is definitely a lot of talent coming through the Chelsea academy, placed at the magnificent Cobham training complex currently proving the envy of Europe.
Upcoming juniors shined in this season’s FA Youth Cup win and success on the international scene also came in the form of midfielder Josh McEachran. A player dubbed the new ‘Joe Cole’ enjoyed a starring role in England’s recent U-17 European Championship success.
Jeffrey Bruma, Franco Borini, Gael Kakuta and McEachran will be hoping to impress the astute Italian manager whenever they get the chance. As the old adage goes, ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,’ and these players will be hoping they get their chance to explode onto the Premier League scene.
Coupled with the announcement of new arrival Ramires, a 23-year-old Brazilian from Benfica, it seems clear that Ancelotti is nudging towards a more youthful direction to achieve his aims for this season and beyond.
The introduction of the Premier League’s new 25-man squad rule may have influenced Ancelotti’s thinking by letting so many experienced heads leave the Bridge, and may aid the exciting crop of talent coming through the Chelsea academy.
However, this new ‘rule’ may not necessarily lead to younger players getting more of a chance as the pressure to win, especially at the top of the game, is incessant. Chairmen and owners need to reduce this ‘win at all costs’ expectation upon managers so that youth are given a fair crack of the whip at the higher echelons of the beautiful game.
This however, seems extremely unlikely in a modern day game highly influenced by monetary gains and under serious financial threat due to global economic conditions.
Chelsea, as ever, will be hoping to fight on all fronts this season with retaining the title and finally winning the Champions League top priorities.
If, as seems evident from this summers activities, Carlo Ancelotti puts his faith into a mixture of youth and experience, this may be a very interesting season ahead and one which could go either way for the Fulham Road men.
One thing is sure however, ‘the future’s bright, the future’s Chelsea blue’.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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