Barcelona collapse sent Chelsea major warning Roman Abramovich must take seriously – Daniel Childs
It’s probably a sign of my age that I consider Barcelona a rival to Chelsea.
As ridiculous as it may sound for those outside of West London who appreciate the scale of the Spanish giants, what Camp Nou means not only for European football but for our sport in general, the Fulham Blues Road might not be Barca’s fiercest. enemies.
Although I grew up on a regime of hostile clashes between Chelsea and Barcelona in the Champions League. The tops of a dramatic header from John Terry in 2005, the iconic goal of Frank Lampard in 2006, Fernando Torres bypassing Victor Valdes to send us to the final in 2012, or the sorrow of this last goal from Andrés Iniesta after a night of horrible referee in 2009.
This is what puts me in a bit of conflict with the recent Barcelona collapse.
My more tribal senses want me to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude given some of the comments Barcelona players and coaches have made towards Chelsea in recent years. Finding the appeals of the terrible mismanagement of Barcelona a cause for football fans to cry as pompous enough.
While what their recent struggles have highlighted is the fragile nature of power at the top of the game, and how incompetence and poor decision-making can derail one of the game’s greatest institutions in a short time. time.
A brilliant in-depth article from The Athletic detailed Barcelona’s collapse since Pep Guardiola left. The missteps in the development, recruitment and training of young people to move away from the famous traditions woven into the fabric of Barça that have somehow been forgotten. Ronald Koeman’s current team look like a hollow shell of the famous badge they wear, a team lacking inspiration or direction as they move further and further away from the European elite.
A quote for this article came from Sergi Samper – a promising former product of the club’s La Masia academy who failed to break into the first team after training with Lionel Messi. Samper reflected on a bottleneck that had occurred that clashed with Barcelona’s famous ideology.
“Of course, it was an obstacle. You have to recruit players from outside, because Barca are the best club in the world and aim to win everything.
“But you have to recruit players who can make a difference, while the substitutes should always be developed people at home.
“Sometimes there were signings that didn’t improve the team. There were several (house) players who were capable, if they had the opportunity to show it. When the team had local players, that’s when the results were the best.
The overall tone of Samper’s comments doesn’t seem so far removed from an issue Chelsea have had in recent seasons with failed signings not dramatically improving the first team, while simultaneously blocking the way for any talented youngster.
You think back to that disastrous transfer window of 2017 when the club spent a lot on Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta. He is, by far, considered Chelsea’s worst transfer window under Roman Abramovich, the club paid the price the following season as Antonio Conte failed to defend his title and Chelsea gave up the places in qualification for the Champions League.
Two years later, Chelsea were given a transfer ban by FIFA and lost their best player to Eden Hazard. With Abramovich feeling estranged from the club and Stamford Bridge redevelopment plans put on hold indefinitely, there was a feeling that things could have gone very badly when they appointed rookie coach in legend Frank Lampard.
Lampard took the opportunity to bring in a crop of talented youngsters from Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour, likely saving millions at the club.
Chelsea retained Champions League football and then spent £ 200million in the upcoming summer window to sign Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy. All of them played an important role in the club’s winning run in the Champions League 12 months later under the leadership of Thomas Tuchel to propel the club to the top of European football. Add to that the addition of Romelu Lukaku’s £ 98million last summer and the mood around Stamford Bridge is very upbeat and confident.
What Barcelona’s lesson shows is that for big clubs, spending in the transfer market must have a clear strategy and must also have the intention of upgrading the first team rather than filling it. Barcelona’s series of transfer flops on big fees and salaries have not only limited future recruiting intentions, but have blocked the way for La Masia products in hopes of getting a glimpse of first-team action. .
While the culture and infrastructure of Barcelona and Chelsea couldn’t be further apart, the argument for integrating the young academy players into the senior squad rests on the same premise.
Young players understand the club and its demands. In Barcelona, it is about learning the principles of the game transmitted by the success of the icon Johan Cruyff with the formation 4-3-3.
Barcelona youth products, like at Ajax – another of Cruyff’s beloved clubs – learn to fit into a defined way of playing that is reflected in all phases of development to become a professional apart whole who can make the ultimate jump in the first team.
At Chelsea, there is no set style of play given the short-term mentality and frequent coaching changes. However, this chaos spawns a culture of how to survive rapid change thanks to Cobham’s elite system. Versatile players in their position, adaptable to change and able to integrate directly into senior football.
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Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Billy Gilmour and Trevoh Chalobah have all shown this in recent seasons.
Maintaining this understanding of ‘getting’ the club is not a naive view based purely on sentiment, it is a formula that has improved Chelsea for the better. To forget the lessons of the recent unrest would be serious and Barcelona are the most blunt warning from a giant who stumbles to his knees on his own initiative.
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