Chelsea Have Become Title Contenders Without Testing Youngsters?

Reuters / Carl Recine

Jose Mourinho believes title glory is only possible without testing youngsters – as Chelsea have proved.

Antonio Conte’s team has remained mostly consistent throughout this season. Since shifting to their 3-4-3 formation back in October, the Italian has hardly changed his starting eleven, giving Chelsea’s younger players little game time.

The absence of European football means only senior Chelsea players have been extensively used at Stamford Bridge, who have handled the pressure nicely.

But last season things were different when Chelsea struggled under Jose Mourinho where players of various ages were put to test.

Although, at Manchester United this season, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial all have played regularly.

Chelsea are currently four places ahead of United in the league, and Mourinho claims things will not change if the youngsters are not being pressurised elsewhere.

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“On one side we want the young boys to play, but on the other side we want the young boys to perform,” Mourinho said.

“And it is difficult for the best teams to win with the young boys’ learning curves. This is the reality of things.

“You look, for example, at my last season at Chelsea. Is Ruben Loftus-Cheek playing less than in my last season? Probably less. Is Kurt Zouma playing the same as last season? Definitely less.

“You go to other clubs and you say: ‘Young players are playing and being developed’, but what are the responsibilities playing for those teams? What do these teams demand from the youngsters? What pressure is there?

“There are contradictions. So if the young player comes and definitely stays in the team forever, it is because they are ready to perform at the high level, to keep the stability, to cope with the responsibility, and there are not many like this.”

Chelsea will play United next Sunday and Conte will surely name the strongest lineup, which could see the likes of top talents Zouma and Loftus-Cheek missing out yet again.


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