It’s often said that Jose Mourinho doesn’t bring through young players, which is probably a little unfair on the Portuguese coach.
While he clearly prefers experienced heads that he can rely on - like most football managers - he has helped to develop the careers of various youngsters during his career.
Mourinho gets irked by suggestions he doesn’t care about bringing through young players - and knew he’d face questions about his track record on this subject after being unveiled as United boss in the summer of 2016.
"I knew the question was coming," Mourinho said, per United’s official website. "Do you know how many young players I have promoted to the first team from academies? I have promoted 49 players from the academies to the squad.
"Sometimes you promote players because you don't have a choice, because there are injuries and you have no choice. The second factor is that when you are not playing for big targets, it is easier to bring the young players up as it is outside the pressure of the big moments.”
Mourinho tipped three Chelsea starlets to play for England
Two years earlier, when he was still manager of Chelsea, Mourinho tipped three youngsters at Stamford Bridge to play for England within the next few years.
He was so confident they would go on to become full internationals that he should he would blame himself if they failed to fulfil their potential.
First of all, let’s look at what Mourinho said at the time, July 2014…
“My conscience tells me that if, for example, [Lewis] Baker, [Izzy] Brown, and [Dominic] Solanke are not national team players in a few years, I should blame myself,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“They are part of a process the club started without me. In this moment, we have players who will be Chelsea players. And when they become Chelsea players, they will become England players, almost for sure.
“At 16 or 17 I don’t think it’s good for them to go somewhere else to play, like in the Championship. At 17 they have to train with us and they have to learn with us. They will learn a lot.”
Where are they now?
So, where are now?
Current club: Middlesbrough (on loan from Chelsea)
Since Mourinho’s comments, Baker has since had loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, Vitesse (naturally) and is currently with Middlesbrough, who are chasing promotion to the Premier League.
He’s made 17 appearances for England’s Under-21 side, scoring eight goals, but hasn’t been considered for a senior call-up so far.
It’s hard to imagine him playing regularly for Chelsea next season.
Current club: Brighton and Hove Albion (on loan from Chelsea)
Brown was loaned to Vitesse for the 2015-16 campaign, then spent time with Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town.
The 21-year-old secured a loan move to Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion last summer but is currently recovering back at Chelsea after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury last month.
Brown made two appearances for England’s Under-20 side but is yet to feature for the Under-21s.
Current club: Liverpool
Unlike Baker and Brown, Dominic Solanke has made an appearance for England’s senior team.
The 20-year-old forward came on as a 75th-minute substitute against Scotland last November, months after leaving Chelsea for Liverpool.
However, Solanke is still yet to open his account for Liverpool. The youngster has made 19 appearances for the Merseyside outfit but failed to score a single goal.
Mourinho's prediction wasn't entirely terrible
Not a perfect prediction from Mourinho, then, but one out of three isn’t terrible.
However, it’s safe to assume that none of the three players will be part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms