Frank Lampard is currently receiving plenty of plaudits for being the manager making much of resources at his disposal that have originated from the Chelsea Academy, but the last thing he wants to do is take the sole credit for that.
Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have all been given their chances in the early stages of this season and they have rewarded that faith. Andreas Christensen, who established himself in the squad in previous seasons, has seen plenty of action too.Although Lampard has selected those team line-ups, he indicates they are the natural choice given the overview of what he has to work with.‘Looking at the picture here, I think I would be getting it wrong if I was taken as the saviour of the Academy and all things good to all young players in getting them through,’ he says.‘A lot of that work has been done without me, by Neil Bath [our head of youth development], the Academy staff and the recruitment staff, and by the young lads themselves. Now my job is to do the best with what I have in front of me and I have walked into a club that has a lot of young talent in it.‘Some of it has not touched the first team yet, most of it actually, so I just look at it and say let’s see how you train, how you act and behave and what your desire is day in day out. If they reach a level then they play.’
Looking at some of those youngsters yet to feature this season, Lampard says:‘We have Callum [Hudson-Odoi] and Reece [James] playing in the Under-23s this weekend. We have a game in the Carabao Cup in the week which they can certainly take part in. Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] we obviously know about, he is a little bit older but he is another one who has always been searching for more game time and was just starting to get it when he got injured, so we have him right in front of us, and hopefully there will be more beneath that - Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher, who is doing brilliantly on loan at Charlton, and others. The door is open but they have to go through it.’
Lampard himself has experience of emerging in a team that was blooding several players from its youth system all together, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe his West Ham contemporaries. The Hammers have adopted a name ‘The Academy of Football’.‘The reason for West Ham having the Academy name was firstly, many years ago having the great side that contained  World Cup players,’ he explains. ‘It was cultural that players came through at West Ham. Then that went away, and the reason it came back was Harry Redknapp as far as I am concerned, as Harry paid huge attention to it.‘He brought people in around him who paid huge attention to it. The moment you take your foot off the pedal then it is not there. Neil Bath and the Chelsea Academy have been working hard at that for years, and they certainly deserve more credit than me at the moment for these young players who are in the squad. It is my job now to keep improving them.’
The boss believes Chelsea’s Academy are appreciating the level of communication that now exists between them and the senior set-up.‘It is a bit different for me because I have two of them [former Academy coaches] in my staff,’ he explains.‘Chris Jones was here with the first team mainly but Joe Edwards and Jody Morris were in the Academy and because I had so many regular conversations with them on how work has been done before, I know the line of communication is key, whether these players are coming through or not.‘I have just tried to introduce that as that is how I’d want it. That is what I did last year. That is just how I work. I don’t know about frustration from before and I think we have to be careful that we don’t just put it on ex-managers or situations, because also the players have to show they deserve to be in front of other players.‘Now we have a nice moment because they are showing that, so all the work is coming together.’
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