Actions & Words: Will They Ever Meet?
Actions speak louder than words; 90% of communication is through body language; or putting your ...
Actions speak louder than words; 90% of communication is through body language; or putting your money where your mouth is. All of these statements convey the message that what we say doesn't carry the ultimate truth, but that what we actually do speaks volumes. We've all heard the observation 'paying lip service' to something and the eventual lack of trust this evokes in those who are in receipt of this 'service' - 'white man speak with fork tongue' or 'these people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me' amplify the point further.
Which, and bear with me here, brings us to Ruben Loftus-Cheek. I read today that he has apparently expressed frustration at the lack of first team opportunities in recent weeks and that he is reaching the conclusion that a time away on loan may well be needed so that he can gain that much needed first team experience and develop his game to the next level. Now let me say from the off that I can in no way verify the origins of this story; the pieces I briefly read make reference to an article in The Telegraph. I was first alerted to this article when listening to Dermot Drummy, our former youth and reserve team coach, being interviewed on Talk Sport this afternoon. Perhaps the article has some substance or perhaps it doesn't. Either way, I don't really care. The interview with Drummy raised some hugely important issues.
Firstly, he offered his own observation on Ruben, having worked with him at Chelsea previously. He said that if the story is true, then he would see this as a positive, because Ruben is apparently quite a passive character and if he is now getting a bit angry or irritable, then this is probably a good thing. A useful insight. That's one thing to consider. The other thing Drummy said, was in reference to the road that exists between the youth training facilities at Cobham to the first team training facilities. He said that it was often conveyed to the youth players that this is the hardest road to cross. But he took this further. He said that there not only has to be a pathway to the first team, but also a pathway to the Board and to the owner. The idea that this road is one that a talent such as Loftus-Cheek can travel along and reach their goal has to be truly achievable. He was basically conveying the message that if young talent - and make no mistake, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a talent - is to break through into the first team, then the ownership of this idea belongs to every part of the clubs hierarchy, from Abramovich to Mourinho to the Academy, and all in between; and here is the crux of my point. I believe that the club is at a crucial point in their history at this moment. Perhaps the most crucial point in the Roman Abramovich era. The choice is stark. Is our Academy a vehicle for developing players that can break into the first team, or is it purely a money making scheme to develop and sell players, thereby making a profit? It's crystal clear what is has been so far, and it's the actions that have spoken.
The words have been many and the mantra has been that we want to develop the best young talent and break them into the first team. Lip service. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has now reached a high level and will get a run of games. Lip service. Dominic Solanke will not go out on loan and it will be better for him if he stays and trains with the first team. Lip service. What happens instead? We see persistence with a midfielder who doesn't do the tracking back that the manager demands from all his players (Fabregas) and instead gives half a game to a 19 year old, who showed promise, but who gets criticised for not tracking back enough (and if he needs to be motivated in a certain way, then it's partly up to the manager to get the best out of him). We sign on loan a striker that used to be a force to be reckoned with but who is sadly a pale shadow of his former self and have him as our 3rd back up striker - Dominic Solanke goes out on loan. I could go on, but the point is made.
But the questions remain. Do Chelsea have the balls to trust their young players? Does Roman have the balls to allow a time of transition that might mean a trophy-less period but which means we give young talent a real chance? (The trophy-less season is now most likely upon us anyway, whilst relying on the established players). Does Jose have the balls to select and stick with one or two younger players now? (What is there to lose?) What might be the impact on these young players who experience their club's trust? What bond and attachment will they develop with the club if they get that trust? What message will it give to other young players to see Ruben make it? These are massively important questions to answer, but we certainly won't know the answers unless we try. What is clear currently though is that the actions don't match the words. It's clear, from the actions, what Chelsea's strategy is currently. Are we on the brink of a major turning point in the Abramovich era? Potentially, yes. Will it happen? Let the clubs actions answer that question - nothing else is believable.