With the snore-fest that is the international break here it’s hard to find anything football-related worth talking about. Friendly, non-competitive football certainly doesn’t provide much, but still reveals another project Chelsea need to undertake.
There was a time when the English national team was built up of a strong contingent of Chelsea players. They weren’t just squad members or bit players. Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Joe Cole were stars of the national team and for Chelsea.
It says a lot about the way the club is now that they have forgotten some of the core principals that helped them build a team that was better than the sum of the parts Roman Abramovich bought.
In the early years of Roman’s revolution, Chelsea committed to maintaining a strong English spine. It helped having those players already at the club, or at least a few of them in Terry and Lampard. Abramovich then made a point of bringing in Ashley and Joe Cole.
Successful clubs tend to have a cultural tie to the country they play in. Bayern Munich always has a strong German core, as do Juventus with Italians.
On the other hand, during the oddly dry period was the galactico period at Real Madrid, they had very few Spaniards in the squad. Now with more domestic representation they have enjoyed two of the most successful years in their history. The same was also true of Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. He had a team mainly built at home with players who understood the culture. It changed and broke when they tried to buy their success from foreign countries. That is the current issue at Manchester United as well.
There is nothing wrong with the international additions. They are often stars and football is, after all, about the cultures that it bring together as much as the goals, assists, and tackles. But it does say something very loud and clear when one of the biggest clubs in England is barely represented on the English national team.
Chelsea must do better at this and be willing to make the investment. This summer it would be nice to see them go out and get Ryan Sessegnon, Nick Pope and Harry Maguire. If they could really commit to making those sort of moves it would be a wonderful thing for the club to start building its foundation again. The club showed a promising sign by buying Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater, but at the top end of the market, they seem scared to truly commit.
That not a single Chelsea first-team member is currently with Gareth Southgate’s England side should send a warning sign to the board at Chelsea. What will be interesting is to see if it does.