Josh McEachran - His Form At Middlesbrough and Role For The Future

Josh McEachren has been on the radar of Chelsea fans for a long time now. The weight of expectation that he carries on his shoulders is...

Josh McEachren has been on the radar of Chelsea fans for a long time now. The weight of expectation that he carries on his shoulders is massive. Over time it seems most fans’ hopes for him have slowly been dropping as he has failed to make an impact on the first team, or anywhere that he has gone out on loan. I don’t think many people are, but anyone thinking along these lines, don’t give up on him yet. He’s still only 19 and has a long way to go in his development.

He’s currently on loan at Middlesbrough and because it’s difficult to watch him play, certainly on a regular basis, I have delved into some of the Middlesbrough fans forums to see what they think of him. Here are some things that have been said about him.

I've seen him live in quite a few games now and I think he's a class above. Shame he is forced to play out wide. Never gives away possession, creates lots, passes forward and look very tidy.

Really impressed with the lad, haven't seen anyone his age with the same passing skills. He picks passes that you struggle to see from the stands. Ball retention is also great, and has good pace which is useful in our midfield.

Good tidy player when playing centrally and has a good footballing brain. He keeps the game simple which as daft as it sounds is one of the hardest things for players to do these days. He's had a very good start to his Boro career.
As you can see there is plenty of praise for him out there. However it wouldn't be a fair article to just quote positive comments, because there is a lot of constructive criticism out there too.

Contrary to world media reports I do not think he will be the next Lampard or England captain. But he is a tidy player with a great brain and vision, he could very well end up playing for the three lions but we will wait and see...

i am a bit concerned with his mobility and tackling ability. also he is slightly lightweighted. i think three lions cant work like Spain at the moment which have a lot of talented players holding ball and allowing players with less tackling ability and a bit lightweighted.

Competant but needs to get up to the level of game changer as that is where his real ability is.

When he first arrivied (if I remember rightly) people were on the forum were saying he didn't offer much defensively. But I noticed against Blackburn and against Leicester that he starting to get back a bit more, helping Hoyte, shielding the ball out at times. He's still not great at that yet but I think it'll come.
There is also the problem that, due to injuries, they have been playing him on the right wing a bit which is frustrating for us! Overall though it seems he has made a positive impact from what I have read. There are definitely things he needs to work on but that is why he is on loan, to get the game time that will give him this experience.

The promise is still there. It’s likely he will go out on loan again after this season as this seems to be how Chelsea’s youth system works. It can be frustrating for fans and the players, but Bertrand would definitely tell you that this system has its benefits.

I wouldn’t worry too much about him not getting consistent game time on loan in the Premiership either. When Brendan Rodgers signed him at Swansea, he did so with the expectation that he would be one of their most influential midfielders. The biggest reason for why this didn’t work though, in my opinion, was the rise of Sigurdsson. Essentially their roles were reversed, Josh became back up and Sigurdsson took over the prominent role in the midfield. Certainly Josh didn’t play as well as he could, but were it not for this then he would have featured a lot more.

I had previously envisaged him playing in the deeper role in the midfield two. Firstly because I think his passing ability and vision is suited to this deeper role (like Arteta on a more premature level maybe?). Secondly because, is he really going to break into that number 10 role with the players we have there?

However, if he is to play this role, it seems he’ll have to get better in a defensive capacity (from what Middlesbrough fans have said). There are lots of comments about him being lightweight and poor in the air. He’s not naturally built for this but it can be worked on. His tackling can similarly be worked on, and also seems to need improvement. There’s a lot to suggest that he could play in the middle of a midfield three, but if he is to have a future at Chelsea I think he will have to adapt to a deeper role.

A quick funny story about Josh: I live in Oxford, which is also where he is from. As such he is often out and about in Oxford. There was one occasion where some friends and I went for a night out at a place called The Bridge, and guess who was there? None other than McEachran! It was cool to seem him in a casual and social situation like that. The funny part of the story though, that actually annoyed me a little as well, is that after that night out he was on the bench in the Champions League the next day! Of course he was unlikely to play, and didn’t, but still!

To round this off, I think that, as things stand, he still has a future at Chelsea. With Lampard fading there is room for him to play in that role. He has bucket loads of natural talent, and playing in a physical league like the Championship will help evolve that part of his game too. There is still a way to go for him, but I am quietly optimistic.

(follow me on twitter: @cody_bound)


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