McEachran the answer to Chelsea’s woes
On a chilly Wednesday night last September, 17-year-old Josh McEachran showed the 40,000 fans packed into Stamford what the hype was about.
As in English football these days, the result of this Carling Cup tie was largely insignificant; instead the night was a chance for young starlet’s to make their mark.
Carlo Ancelotti’s baby Blues were trailing 3-1 to Newcastle ten minutes into the second half, when McEachran was given his chance in place of the injured Saloman Kalou. In the ensuing 30 minutes, McEachran launched Chelsea back into the contest with his midfield guile living up to the hype comparing him to Frank Lampard.
In reality, he is a very different player to Chelsea’s current midfield maestro. Lampard is the ever-present figure in Chelsea’s midfield and his physicality is his biggest asset, not to mention his seasonal 20 goal haul.
McEachran, on the other hand, is a slight figure, who relies on his natural touch to fend off opponents, and gives passes to his strikers that even Xavi would be proud of.
On this night, McEachran led Chelsea back to 3-3, before a Shola Ameobi header won the tie for the Geordies. The home crowd went home more encouraged by Chelsea’s future than disappointed with the early cup exit.
Andres Villas-Boas, knowing the Premier League trophy is a bare minimum in his first season in West London, needs to nurture this gem for Chelsea. Carlo Ancelotti employed McEachran in a deep holding midfield role in the penultimate (and meaningless) game of the season, again against Newcastle. Here he was wasted, resigned to passing back to his defenders throughout the contest.
The incoming manager needs to give him the freedom to roam, and unleash the passing game which has seen him lauded with praise from all footballing circles.
At 17 years old, geeky adolescent Villas-Boas was given an opportunity to show his tactical worth by the late Bobby Robson, coach of Porto at the time. Indeed, Chelsea has given him the chance, at just 33, to manage one of the biggest clubs in world football based on one successful season in a vastly inferior league. It is now up to him to entrust responsibility in perhaps Chelsea’s best academy product since John Terry.
At a time when Roman Abramovich is desperately seeking a player to unlock his 50 million pound striking acquisition, whose name needn’t be said, the answer may well be staring him right in the face.
Luka Modric and Javier Pastore eat your heart out, young Josh is Chelsea’s man.
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