Forget Wembley, forget Barcelona. The future of Chelsea was paraded at Stamford Bridge last week as the kids defeated Manchester United to reach the final of the FA Youth Cup.
There’s something invigorating about watching the next generation, and trying to spot who will go on to make it big.
Could Nathan Ake be the next John Terry… maybe under JT as player/manager?
Will Jamal Blackman – 6ft 5in, just 18 and still growing – turn into the next Petr Cech?
United’s teenagers found it all but impossible to lob him on Friday night in the second leg of the semi-final, despite numerous attempts.
He was beaten once, but only by a ball that took a big deflection off right back Todd Kane.
That goal, eight minutes before the interval, levelled the aggregate scores and came against the run of play, after Chelsea front men Islam Feruz, Amin Affane and – notably – Lucas Piazon appeared
to be steering the ship without difficulty.
Piazon had a running ding-dong with United midfielder Ben Pearson, with the two given a lecture on sportsmanship by ref Dean Whitestone. In 10 years it will be interesting to ask the pair if they
remember the passion they showed last week.
Chelsea’s most promising rising star, aside from Blackman, is Adam Nditi – a 17-year-old left-sided wing-back with a hunger for action, a superb team ethic and a repertoire of inventive jinks. My
50p goes on him.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s oddly one-sided 5-1 scoreline at Wembley in the FA Cup proved that it takes a goal to settle players.
Or two goals, if you count the curious scrambled ‘goal that never was’ from Juan Mata, which – despite a brief attempted comeback – effectively knocked the stuffing out of Tottenham.
Chelsea now head for three cup finals – the Youth Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League.
OK, have it your own way. Two finals, and one long shot.