Pre-season training has yet to begin, but is Jose Mourinho already back tracking on claims made during his first interview as Chelsea manager?
The calmer, happier Mourinho, made a few claims during his 25 minute interview with Chelsea TV, including the line about improving the squad not only by spending money, but also by using the players he already has.
Since the end of the season, a few squad players have moved on, including our two back up goalkeepers, Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario.
Mourinho is known for liking to have three goalkeepers in his first team squad; the undisputed number one is Petr Cech, but apart from him, no other goalkeeper makes the official first team squad on the club website.
Of course there are several goalkeepers at U21 level; Jamal Blackman, Sam Walker and Matej Delac, to name just three. One of these should make the step up, most likely Blackman, who regularly travels with the 1stteam squad on European trips.
That would leave a gap for another goalkeeper to join the first team as back up to Cech. Now if Mourinho was being serious about using the players he already has, 19-year-old Blackman would become second choice, and perhaps an older goalkeeper helping to support him.
Blackman is yet to make a first team appearance, largely because of Turnbull and Hilario making up the first team squad, with them now gone, Blackman should be there. He should have already been there, but academy players seem to be blocked by these wage collectors.
However, today Chelsea had a reported bid of £5 million pounds rejected for Norwich and England goalkeeper John Ruddy rejected. If Ruddy were to sign, there would be no doubt that he would be 2ndchoice, with Blackman’s chance to make the first team blocked again.
Not only that Ruddy would be denying an academy product his opportunity, the signing is nonsensical. Firstly, £5 million on a second choice goalkeeper is outrageous, and second of all, in a World Cup Year, why would Ruddy want to move to a club where he is isn’t going to play? That however is a debate for another time.
If Mourinho wanted to work with the players he had, we would be signing a goalkeeper like Hilario, who can use their experience to help a young and upcoming goalkeeper. Whilst not providing serious competition for the spot on the bench.
Signing Ruddy smashes his words to bits, and can we believe the other claims, for example him wanting to stay for a long time?
The issue of transfers is a complicated one; since Mourinho left, the club have been in control of making signings, with the ‘coach’ left to build something that resembles a football team. It’s unclear if Mourinho is pulling the strings again, but given his character, I believe so.
One concern would be, if Cech was injured, could we rely on a 19-year-old with no experience. But how will we ever know if he isn’t given the chance? How did Barcelona know Lionel Messi was good enough?
Hilario joined in 2006 and Turnbull in 2009, between them they made 38 first team appearances in all competitions, that’s five and half games a year. The risk is minimal, and if it didn’t work that, at least an experienced ‘keeper would be on hand to come in.
At the end of this season Thibaut Courtois will return to the club, and will probably take the number one spot from Cech, we don’t know if Cech will stay or leave, but if he stays and we sign Ruddy this year, where does that leave Blackman, or any other goalkeeper at the club?
Millions have been spent producing one of Europe’s best academies, but still, even know, golden opportunities to give somebody a chance are being passed up.
Mourinho made lots of promises and talked about legacies, but if this is a sign of things to come, it’s going to become the same of last time.