There are new faces in the dugout and on the pitch as preparations for the 2019/20 season continue for our Academy teams.
Andy Myers has stepped into the role of development squad head coach following the promotion of Joe Edwards to Frank Lampard’s backroom staff. Jon Harley, who worked as assistant to Myers last season at the Under-18 age group, will assist the former Blues defender, as will Eric Ramsay. The latter joins Chelsea next month from Shrewsbury Town, where he worked as first team coach and Academy Manager.
It is all part of the production line of talent overseen by Neil Bath, our head of youth development, who takes as much pride in staff success as player progression.
‘It has always been the aim of our programme to develop talented and well-rounded people - staff as well as players - so to see so many former Academy coaches and support staff as part of Frank’s team is fantastic for us,’ said Bath as he reflected on the summer changes.
‘Joe Edwards’s move to the first team staff has given us the opportunity to look at our coaching structure in the professional development phase (U17+) and we feel it makes sense to bring in another coach to this phase at this time.
‘Eric Ramsay has incredible experience for a 27-year old coach, having worked as head of the Academy and with the first team at Shrewsbury. I am confident his skill-set will complement the existing staff and help us continue to evolve our youth development programme.’
Bath believes in bringing together a diverse group of staff from a wide range of coaching and playing career backgrounds, though he remains a big advocate of developing people internally and pushing them to take on new challenges. The list of Chelsea youth team coaches from the past 15 years includes Steve Clarke (Scotland manager), Brendan Rodgers (Leicester manager) and Paul Clement (former Swansea and Reading manager), as well as Jody Morris and Edwards.
‘Promotions at the older age groups have a ripple effect throughout the programme, allowing others to step up and take on new roles with different responsibilities,' Bath explained.
'It's important for us to utilise former players and Academy graduates, who can pass on so much knowledge and experience, while talented staff recruited from other clubs can add a huge amount to take us forward as well.'
Our development squad were most recently in action on Wednesday evening as they beat Newport County 6-1 in Wales. An Ike Ugbo brace alongside strikes from Conor Gallagher, Ian Maatsen, Juan Castillo and Armando Broja fired Myers’s men to victory. Next up is a trip closer to home when they travel to Sutton United this weekend.
Our Under-18s also have new coaching staff in charge as Ed Brand takes the role of Under-18s head coach, assisted by James Simmonds. Their group were 7-2 winners against Bournemouth at the weekend, with new scholars Lewis Bate, Joe Haigh and Dion Rankine among the goals.
The youngsters head to Austria this weekend for a friendly against Bayern Munich before the league season begins on 10 August. Fixtures will be confirmed on this website shortly.