Football managers usually cite ‘poor performance’ and ‘good showing’ as the basis for their team selections. Players who perform well during training and go on to replicate the same in a competitive fixture are usually chosen ahead of others. At Chelsea this season, this has exactly been the case. We have seen players like Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill, who were starters last season, take the backseat, and watch their teammates (new and old) play in their stead week in, week out. We also have those who have barely had a real sniff at first team football on the other side, yearning to get a chance.
It’s utter competition for places at Chelsea, which is what happens at every big team, and it’s good for the club in the end, because it drives up performances.
As it stands, there are players who are already looking to exit the club, because they don’t know when they’ll get a chance, or if they’ll do, so seeking ‘greener pastures’ would seem the rational option.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek happens to be one of the many players that have been deemed unprepared to break into the first team, but I’m not sure that argument will hold any water now, following his man of the match performance against BATE Borisov on Thursday. With all due respect, it was an unexpected showing, and one that surely shed more light on his abilities as a player. Three goals, and a fine all round display would have boosted his chances of getting a start in the EPL. Of course, that is still not a certainty, judging he has Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley or even Cesc Fabregas to contend with, and the words of Maurizio Sarri after the game suggested otherwise. Speaking post-Borisov, he acknowledged Ruben’s quality, but also said the English international would need to improve on his defensive side of football.
What that means is that while there is hope for the lad, things are also not entirely clear as regards his situation at the club.
From a fan point of view though, I do have to say I totally agree with the coach’s position on Ruben. The club currently has top players in midfield, so it’s tough to break in. This of course, also doesn’t mean that players can’t break in. But that would depend on how much hard work they put into that process.
I am happy for the young midfielder, but I believe he needs to keep going before he can fully break into the starting eleven. Sarri won’t just throw him in because of his hat-trick, but he won’t be that far off anymore and he would have a number of substitute chances to prove himself against superior opposition in the league.
He does have what it takes to become a very good player for us, but is he ready?