In the last loan report of the season, we take a look at the brief final day involvement in the Barclays Premier League of a trio of youngsters, most notably Jack Cork scoring his first goal in the top flight. In the absence of any other action, we will also take a look at the season as a whole on the loan front, and whilst not taking in a full look ahead to their respective futures just yet (look out for a piece on that), it doesn’t hurt to scratch the surface.
But first to the action, and to Turf Moor, where Cork was aiming to score his first goal for Burnley, and indeed, his first goal since the 2007-08 season at Scunthorpe United. Earlier in the week his father Alan, a former striker at Wimbledon and Sheffield United amongst many other clubs, commented that it was his aim to find the back of the net before returning to Stamford Bridge, and in fine Chelsea fashion he helped lay Tottenham Hotspur to the sword. After the visitors had gone 2-0 up the relegated Clarets mounted a comeback to leave their fans with a happy final impression of their stay in the top division, and it was Jack’s goal which put them on terms.
Nice work down the right by Martin Paterson gave him room to send a cross into the box, and Cork arrived between two defenders to steer a header into Ben Alnwick’s bottom left hand corner. Clearly delighted, he went on to play a big part in turning the scoreline into a 4-2 victory. Having shown in his three months at Turf Moor that he can indeed live with the best in the country, Jack’s next aim will be convincing Chelsea that he can be a part of their 25-man squad next season, to be registered as per new Premier League rules. Father Alan believes his boy is ready to move on permanently but with Juliano Belletti almost certainly leaving the club, Cork may see an opening in the squad he can at least have a go at over the summer.
The rest of the final day was rather uneventful. Scott Sinclair was ineligible from playing in Wigan’s 8-0 demise at Stamford Bridge due to loan rules but was present at the stadium to watch his occasional team-mates celebrate with the league title. Franco Di Santo wasn’t involved at all for Blackburn at Aston Villa, whilst Michael Mancienne was an unused substitute as Wolves beat Sunderland 2-1 at Molineux. They each face interesting futures with Di Santo the only one who hasn’t yet been linked with a permanent move elsewhere.
Matej Delač returned to Croatian league action but with a 3-1 defeat away to NK Rijeka, but with that covered, attentions can turn to a look back at what has been a remarkably busy year for loan news. Nineteen different moves involving seventeen different players were logged, with only Cork and van Aanholt making two different moves. For the Dutchman, it was a successful year of progress, making the stride from professional debut at Coventry (where he played alongside Cork), to a key player at eventual champions Newcastle, and then his first-team debut at Chelsea.
Another left-back had a superb season in the second tier too. Ryan Bertrand racked up over 50 appearances as Reading went from promotion hopefuls to relegation favourites and back to playoff outsiders in nine months. Throughout their topsy-turvy campaign, Ryan was a beacon of consistency and stability, and managed his first ever professional goal en route. He was joined at the club by Shaun Cummings, who spent a few weeks at West Brom way back in August before the Royals signed him permanently on deadline day.
League One was a favoured destination for the club in 2009-10, finding homes for Jacob Mellis (Southampton), Lee Sawyer (Southend), Liam Bridcutt (Stockport) and Ben Gordon (Tranmere). A fifth, Tom Taiwo, was the most successful in the division, turning his five-month stay at Carlisle United into a permanent one at the turn of the year, but for the remaining quartet, things could’ve gone better. Mellis struggled to break into a team finding form despite being in fine fettle himself for the England Under-19s, whilst Bridcutt toiled in a terrible team who were doomed to relegation well before it was mathematically confirmed. Gordon’s brief spell at Tranmere was error-strewn whilst Sawyer managed to go from hero to zero at Roots Hall inside a year, getting kicked out of both the Shrimpers and then Chelsea due to behavioural concerns.
Nana Ofori-Twumasi was the only player to feature in League Two, playing nine games for Dagenham & Redbridge with mixed results. He struck twice in front of goal but left a lot to be desired defensively, and with his Chelsea contract expiring this summer, will be looking for a similar move at the very least as he takes his career forwards.
The brightest star shone abroad though. Slobodan Rajkovic had already spent a year at FC Twente but this year was joined by Miroslav Stoch, who returned to Cobham this week as a Dutch champion. With twelve goals in all competitions, Miro was one of the revelations of the season, and despite going cold during the winter months, he came back at the end of the year to score two crucial goals, including the one which clinched the title for Steve McClaren’s team. He now heads off to the World Cup with Slovakia to cap a quite sensational season.
That’s it really, hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage of the loanees every Sunday, it’s been interesting. Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with the latest youth and reserve news both here on CFCnet and on Twitter by following @chelseayouth.