Our development squad are back in Premier League 2 action tonight (Monday) away at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Aggborough Stadium in Kidderminster is the venue for our first game of the 2022/23 campaign, with the action against Wolves getting underway at 7pm.
This will be our young Blues’ first competitive game of the season and after our development squad secured survival with a last-day win back in May, new head coach Mark Robinson has been discussing his hopes for the term ahead of the curtain-raiser.
‘Everyone is looking forward to it and I also the enthusiasm and excitement that our boys are showing,' Robinson told us. 'We cannot wait to get started and we expect it to be a tough game.’
The former AFC Wimbledon boss and his side have had a glimpse of what to expect in this game as the only blemish in 90 minutes of their pre-season tour of America was a 2-1 defeat against Wolves.
‘We know what they are capable of and we must be prepared for that as a team. Having said that, we will be all about implementing our identity and philosophy.
'We do not want to focus too much on what Wolves or any of our opposition are doing. The focus should solely be on our approach.’
Targets for the season
Robinson reiterated this by giving his thoughts on what the targets should be from him and the players this season.
‘I am under no illusions that my job as the head coach of the development squad is to win football matches, producing professional performances that have the ultimate aim of developing a lot of these young players,' he stated.
‘I'm excited to be working with such a high level of talent and I look forward to seeing the great things that I know they are capable of.’
Robinson comes from a family of Chelsea supporters dating back to the 1940s and he insists that this helps him understand the expectations that need to be met.
‘My background has played a major part in my coaching and has influenced the way that I operate,' he added. 'I believe in squeezing every last drop of water from the sponge.’
This analogy reinforces what Robinson would like to achieve from the coming season.
When asked how he would like his team to play, he was assured in his response.
‘We want to play a high-tempo, effective brand of football which causes our opponents to struggle to maintain our levels of output,' he explained. 'We will be possession-based, seizing every opportunity we get to hurt our opponents.
'This is all without neglecting the defensive side of the game. I would like my side to press hard and intensely as this will help us win the ball back quickly.’
Robinson also made the point though that it will take time to consistently show the style that is desired.
‘We are preparing our boys regularly on imposing their identity on their opponents, but it is really important that we do not make judgements until we are a few games into the season.’
Neil Bath and working culture
Robinson also wanted to show his gratitude to head of youth development Neil Bath for creating a culture and environment which he believes will allow himself, his players and his coaching staff to thrive in.
‘Neil has been fantastic,' he added. 'The biggest positive is how open everyone is with each other because that honesty is always the best policy for a working environment.
'The support I have received from Neil and the rest of the Academy has been very important and this is what makes this job an exciting prospect.’
When asked what success would look like at the end of the season, Robinson gave his outlook on this.
‘Success would be team growth. Growth and improvement from players, growth and improvement from me, growth and improvement from my coaching team.
‘The biggest thing is progression from the players and aiding them to the next level. We want them to be ready to go into the first team or to go on loan. That is fundamentally what I am here to do and that is what I will be judging myself on.’
In other Academy news, midfielder Billy Gee has signed his first professional contract with Chelsea, committing the 17-year-old to the club until at least the summer of 2025.