Ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League tie with Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge where Jose Mourinho is expected to give club academy graduates such as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathan Ake and Mitchell Beeney a chance to play.
The Portuguese coach has stated that lack of managerial stability at Chelsea in the last 10 years has made it difficult for any coach to groom young talents after nine different coaches have come in to manage the Roman Abramovich-owned club since 2003, including Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo.
Mourinho insisted he will rather close down a non-functional academy and use the money to buy players.
In recent years at Chelsea, the chances for youngsters have been limited and captain John Terry is the last player to come through the Blues’ academy and
become a regular in the first team.
Mourinho has however hailed tonight’s game against Sporting as “Academy Day”, having qualified for the knock out stages.
“The people in the academy feel they are working for something,” Mourinho told a gathered press in London.
“Which is why it is not Ruben’s day but “Academy Day”.
“If you don’t bring kids through the academy, the best thing is to close it. If the kids are not good enough or the work not good enough, close the door and use the money to buy players.
“You need to prove the academy works well and is worth it. It’s only possible if the first-team manager stays for a long time, which in this club in the last 10 years was not possible. Now I’m trying to format Ruben and other Rubens in relation to my ideas.
“The relation between the first-team and the academy is changing with this stability we are having.
Loftus-Cheek, 18, pictured alongside Mourinho above, will be making his first-team debut against Sporting after ten years at the Bridge. The England forward has played 10 games for the Three Lions Under 19 scoring six goals.
Also, Kurt Zouma, who has been a regular in the Chelsea senior team this season mostly playing cameo roles is expected to play a big role.
“It depends on the talent you have. Every manager in the world wants to bring young people up. Sometimes you have it,” Mourinho added.
“Sometimes you don’t. I can compare my first spell here to now, and now the quality of the young players is clearly better.
“I’m not saying they’re ready, but the quality is much better.
“Go to other clubs, it’s clear it’s not easy to bring kids from the youth competitions to the top level, but every one has the same feeling. We want to do it.”