On 3 October 2009, Josh McEachran was playing in a 4-3 win against Fulham for the Chelsea youth team. Who would have guessed that one year on he could be in contention for playing a role for Chelsea’s first team against Arsenal, at Stamford Bridge?
What’s most remarkable about the Josh McEachran story (so far!) is how suddenly he has burst onto everyone at Chelsea’s radar. There were murmurs of his name around pre-season and towards the beginning of the season; a few diligent fans might have gone onto YouTube to try and get a glimpse of him in action. However impressive he appeared on these videos or in our pre-season matches against Crystal Palace and Ajax, still no one could have predicted his situation going into October.
McEachran’s ability is obvious to anyone who has seen him play – he’s a great talent. But one of the most promising aspects of Josh McEachran is his attitude. His maturity and confidence is there for all to see whilst playing, and, off the pitch, according to his manager, his character and attitude are in perfect condition for football at this level.
When, at the beginning of the season, Carlo Ancelotti stated that he would like to incorporate five young players into the first team, McEachran was the fifth name on the list – which was no shame for him. Gael Kakuta, Daniel Sturridge and Jeffrey Bruma had all impressed in first team appearances previously, and Patrick Van Aanholt played very well on-loan last season. But it seems that McEachran, who has been at Chelsea since the age of 8, may well prove to be the biggest star of the lot; and that is saying something.
McEachran has already been likened to Frank Lampard, and, whilst the playing style is slightly varied and he doesn’t score as many goals (yet), Josh has already started emulating Lampard’s knack of breaking records. When McEachran came on to make his Chelsea debut against MSK Zilina, just over 2 weeks ago, he became the first player to play in the Champions League after being born after its inauguration in the 1992-1993 season. He also became the youngest Chelsea player to feature in the competition. Let’s hope that McEachran will, one day, break as many records as Lampard.
There has been no “remember the name” moments for McEachran, as of yet, but it seems that he doesn’t need one. Whilst Wayne Rooney did have this one of these moments, he had actually made his full Everton debut 2 months previously. Rooney took two months to fit in with an Everton team who had finished in 15th place the season before. McEachran has slotted straight into the English Champions’ team and has not looked out of place– you can’t really do much better as a 17 year old.
Whilst McEachran has not grabbed the headlines yet, he has still attracted a lot of positive attention from the press. Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Redknapp, has told the Daily Mail that Josh: “can be the next big thing”; Trevor Brooking told the Telegraph that: “he has the ability to change a game”; and nearly all of the national sport papers have made mention of him, and he has already been compared to Jack Wilshere, Scott Parker as well as Lampard.
Meanwhile, the respect for him is evident among the players and, of course, Carlo Ancelotti who showed great trust and belief in him by bringing him on to try and salvage the game at Eastlands, against Manchester City. It was evident, from the reception that he got when coming on in the 88th minute against Marseille, that the Chelsea fans really believe that he can, in the future, be a Chelsea legend.