Following Conor Gallagher’s debut for England this week, Petr Cech's latest weekly column focuses on the success of our loan development pathway and why it is so important for our young players…
The gap between playing academy football and trying to compete for a place at one of the best clubs in the world is really big so you need to have a different pathway for each player.
We just won the Champions League and we compete to win every title so that means if you are playing in the Under-23s then your chances of going directly to the senior team and being a big part of it are very limited.
The level of competition is high, the team is built from the best players in the world and to compete with them is not an easy task for a teenager. The more experience you have and the more difficult games you’ve played in makes it easier to settle and adapt.
If we were a club near the bottom of the table that doesn’t have so many resources then maybe you get a chance earlier but this is a completely different environment and you need a step in between. The loans development system has been really successful because people take care of it and we make sure each player has the right loan at the right time.
The target is to go and play as many games as possible, to adapt to men’s football and improve yourself so you can come back with that experience and with a better chance to make the team here. You must be able to compete and to be ready for what’s coming.
Gallagher making strides
Conor was very close in terms of making the team here in the summer and we were really happy with him but it was the same as with Billy Gilmour and we felt at that stage of their careers they needed to go and play as many games as possible.
They are both at the stage where we really want them to become core players for Chelsea so it was better for them to go and play.
'We have a fantastic Academy and that’s why we have more players going on loan because we produce more top players so you need to find more places for them to develop.'
— Petr Cech
For Conor to get the England call-up was absolutely amazing and to make his debut was obviously even more amazing. If he didn’t go to Crystal Palace and perform but rather stayed here and maybe didn’t play every game then that would never have happened.
Once you start to play regularly in the Premier League and show what you can do, that gives you all these chances to be selected. If you have the opportunity to do it when on loan, you can come back to Chelsea in a much better and stronger position.
Conor will come back to us in a completely different situation than he was six months ago and that’s the beauty of it. If everything works out perfectly, this is the idea behind it and obviously it’s great to see that it’s worked out perfectly for Conor so far.
Care and attention
The work of the loans department is very complex but you can see that they’ve done a great job because we are one of the best clubs in Europe for producing and either keeping or selling the young talent for the benefit of the club.
We have a fantastic Academy and that’s why we have more players going on loan because we produce more top players so you need to find more places for them to develop. If your Academy never produces a quality player then you don’t have to worry about this but we have a lot of top talent and we just don’t want to waste anyone.
It comes down to having a lot of knowledge about the player, the level, the style of play and then what you want to achieve with the loan. We look at all that to find the right opportunity for the player and what will improve them.
Then it’s about taking care to ensure the player has everything that he needs and developing the communication with the other club. Sometimes the club-owned player gets it better and is easier to support than someone on loan for only six months so we have to work around this as well.
Wishing Flo well
It was announced this week that Tore Andre Flo will be leaving us in the new year for a coaching job in Norway. Tore has been an amazing servant for this football club, not only as a player but also as an ambassador, a coach in our Academy and then as part of the loans department.
He is someone who really takes care about things, has a great knowledge and is a nice guy to work with. As an ex-player, he is a club legend and even the players look up to him to share his experiences.
This is a great opportunity for him to become a coach in his home country and pursue this new career so we only can thank him and wish him all the best. He knows he will always have a door open in our club for what he’s done here.
Essien gets my vote
We recently scored our 2,000th goal under the ownership of Roman Abramovich and there is a vote for supporters to choose their favourite. The one ‘wow’ goal I remember is definitely Essien against Barcelona.
You look at it and think ‘how did he even do that?’ It was just so perfect, such great technique and in such a big game so it had everything together.