These are exciting times right at this moment for Chelsea, as I expected they would be.
The buzz with the Chelsea fans at Carrow Road was extraordinary. There was a phrase in one of the newspapers saying the fans ‘have their club back’. Actually that is very harsh in that the club has been providing the fans with a bunch of trophies year after year, but there is a feeling of ownership right now with Frank and Jody in place and that whole raft of home-made youngsters making their collective presence felt in the squad. The suspicion is there will be more to come now that the pathway has been cleared.
First of all however you just cannot ignore the Tammy and Mason show at the weekend. The quality of play was one thing but the confidence, the belief and then the goals to top it off where something special.
Tammy Abraham was the one more than any other coming from the Academy who I felt would have the very best chance of really making the grade with the club. From the age of 14 or 15 he has shown the right attitude, the eye for a goal and the willingness to take the knocks and get back up and get on with it. He also has that other thing, raw talent which can be worked on and moulded, especially with such an impressive physical structure to work with. He will just keep on getting bigger and stronger over the next few seasons and that is scary!
Chelsea fans, the real fans that is, can also take a bow for their reaction to Tammy over the past few weeks. My final line about him in last week’s column was, ‘All true Chelsea fans are behind you Tammy’. Well you clearly were and are behind him and look at the reaction your support has been rewarded with. I better be careful, I might start getting a bit emotional here, but it is a bit of a dream come true when this sort of redemption story plays out so well.
'It is also worth noting the other brave man in this story.'
— Pat Nevin
Frank has continued to put his faith in Tammy, even when the striker has been under some pressure. You have to know what a young player can cope with and the belief from the management in his capabilities hasn’t wavered. It was a big call to start him against Norwich but it turned out to be the right one. That is one of, if not the most important things about a manager, especially at the top level. You have got to get the big calls right. You can only make this kind of call if you understand not only the ability of your players but their mental capabilities too.
Mason Mount has been a complete revelation as well obviously and it is almost too good to be true the way he has come to command the area of the pitch he is playing in so quickly. All four league goals so far for Chelsea this season have come from these two players, players who weren’t even on the roster last season. I do not want to down play the goals against Liverpool in the Super Cup because that was a big game, one that underlined we can stand toe-to-toe with Jurgen’s men too, but it is hard not to get excited about the youngsters’ impact.
I bet I am not the only person who has already begun to think that at some point this season we might have Tammy, Mason, Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all on the pitch at the same time. Last season that might even have looked like a gimmick, one maybe to be used in the Carabao Cup early rounds, a little chance to promote how good the Academy is. Right now that looks like a hugely exciting line-up that could take on most defences in the Premier League and obviously could be grown into something extra special as a unit as time goes by. Wouldn’t you just love to have Ruben and Callum available right now? I know Frank would. Although Christian Pulisic hasn’t come though the Academy he might just fit right in with this group too, as he is the right age and probably has as much in common with those guys as with anyone else in the team.
In the midst of all the excitement I still want to play it down a bit, because any extra pressure on our young players and indeed our young management team is grossly unfair. I can’t however wait until the weekend when Sheffield United come to town. It will be another opportunity to build on the ideas Frank, Jody and the team are working on. It is tough but winnable and a win in that one would make the league position look very comfortable indeed.
The other major excitement is the Champions League draw, which has crept up on me a little if I am totally honest. The most important thing by far is that winning the Europa League not only got us into the Champions League without any qualifiers, but it also got us straight into Pot 1. That makes an incredible difference to our chances of getting out of the group stage. Now all I want is a kind draw.
Like every Chelsea fan I will be tuned into Monaco later in the week having figured out exactly who I would like us to get and who I would like us to avoid. The thing is I do not think our lads, players and staff alike, will be thinking that way at all. If you are Frank you are used to pitting yourself against the best in the Champions League so he will want to get on with that as quickly as possible. The youngsters I suspect would love the idea of one of the top European sides as the Pot 2 pick against us.
I’ll just go and check if Real Madrid are possible opponents. You really wouldn’t be surprised if that happened at some point in the competition. Eden v Azpi would be worth the admission fee alone.