This week two stories have emerged concerning Chelsea and potential partnerships with lower league clubs. League One outfit Walsall and League Two side Crewe have both been touted as teams the Blues are looking to work with going forwards, and it’s largely due to two employees in the Reserve team setup.
Reserve Manager Steve Holland spent over a decade and a half at Crewe, starting out as a youth coach and becoming Academy Director before a spell in charge of their first team. Now at Chelsea, the Railwaymen are looking towards their former employee for potential help, and ex-Blue Dario Gradi, a bastion of youth development if ever there was one, is hopeful of being able to benefit from Holland’s new employers in any way he can. The BBC are reporting that an informal relationship could be struck where Chelsea send youngsters to Gresty Road for development, and whilst League Two is currently bereft of a club loanee, Tom Taiwo spent time there last season and there are a number of graduates of the academy plying their trade in the division. Crewe centre-back Harry Worley is one such player and after a torrid spell where he failed to settle at Leicester or at Luton, he is looking to get his career back on track at a club which has a long-standing reputation for developing talent.
Meanwhile, Holland’s assistant, Adrian Viveash, has been looking into the possibility of a deal with Midlands side Walsall. Express and Star report that Viveash, who was promoted to the Reserve setup during the summer, has touted some of the club’s youngsters to his former team and whilst the likes of Liam Bridcutt, Jacob Mellis and Tom Taiwo have landed elsewhere in the division, there is the opportunity for some of the players in need of a loan (particularly somebody like Michael Woods) to benefit from a strong relationship between clubs. As Viveash mentions in the E&S piece, Walsall play good football and look to develop their own young talents, with the rise of the temperamental Ishmel Demontagnac preceding the current crop including hot-shot Troy Deeney and defender Netan Sansara. The Saddlers also have a former Chelsea product in well-travelled striker Sam Parkin.
Whether either of the clubs end up in partnership with Chelsea, officially or unofficially, remains to be seen but even if the club is able to share its ideas lower down the football league ladder then there’s a benefit. Looking towards the more fruitful end of the scale, having a trustworthy club to send burgeoning talent to has long been beneficial for many clubs, and with the Blues’ involvement with Westerlo seemingly now solely down to Emmanuel Sarki, a satellite club could prove very useful.