Bertrand’s Blues (by Gary Watton)



I read that young Ryan Bertrand has gone on record as stating that he won’t be settling for a place on Chelsea’s bench next season. This fighting talk is perfectly understandable. After all, it can’t be much fun getting constantly overlooked and having to make do with reserve team football or at best the occasional league cup outing. The left back cam be forgiven for demanding first team action.

However, I have my doubts as to whether the young left back will be on Jose’s first-team radar any time soon. Mr Mourinho prefers the safe option of experience ahead of ‘potential’. After all, when you have a demanding owner on your back, you can scarcely afford to take a punt on young players who are not perceived as the finished article.

In all probability, Ryan will seek new employers in the summer or at the very least swallow his pride and accept another loan deal. If he pursues the latter course of action, then his most likely destination would appear to be either Vitesse Arnhem, Liverpool, or Aston Villa.

In truth, young Bertrand has never quite cemented a regular place ahead of Ashley Cole, unlike Senor Azpulicueta. He has usually been quite solid without being anything to write home about. On the one hand we can all be grateful for his in at the deep end efforts in the Champions League final in Munich against the home team, but his performance was anonymous on the whole. Then Bertrand featured at the Olympic Games on behalf of the Great Britain team. However, although Robbie di Matteo did his best to integrate Ryan into the first team, the left back was more than a little responsible for at least one of the Shakhtar goals in our narrow but insufficient 3-2 home win. Since then Benitez and Mourinho have largely overlooked him, which either suggests a lack of faith in youth or more likely they do not quite like what they saw on the training field.

Anyhow, if Bertrand’s recent pronouncement is anything to go by, then his days at the Bridge would seem to be numbered. Also, the very fact that Bertrand has just played in a Villa defence that conceded four goals at home to Stoke City does little to persuade us of his first-team claims at Chelsea.

Well, I do have mixed feelings about the likelihood of Bertrand being required to fulfil his ‘potential’ with new employers. You see, for all of Chelsea’s multitude of successes in the last decade, we are still conspicuously unable to breed genuine homegrown talent that evolves into superstars. McEachran was widely touted but he is following Jody Morris and Jon Harley as the latest Chelsea prodigy who flattered to deceive. Even Gael Kakuta made no progress at Stamford Bridge. Despite assurances to the contrary, Chelsea Football Club has an atrocious recent record at either identifying young talent or else at enabling our prodigies to reach their full potential. Unless I am mistaken, our last in-house superstar was John Terry and he has been around since the end of the last century!

As Mr Abramovich can be only too well aware of, a homegrown youngster is a much cheaper investment for the club than having to constantly pay extortionate prices to acquire new personnel. Perhaps our talent scouts, youth team coaches, and reserve team coaches have a lot to answer for, but I lament the fact that Ryan Bertrand may well be the latest prodigy to make his way through our exit door. Shame.

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