LONDON (AFP) – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday that he wants to create a supply line of home-grown players to succeed long-serving stalwarts like John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard.
Back at the London club after a six-year absence, Mourinho has spoken of his desire to leave a lasting legacy at Stamford Bridge.
“Ideally it’s not just about having British players either, but having players who are made in Chelsea,” he said in an interview published on the website of British newspaper The Guardian.
“In three or four years’ time, if we don’t have other Englishmen to replace this nucleus of players — when Lamps is 39, John is 36 — I will be very sad. Every club needs that.
“So we are working on that. We have some players on loan, like (Nathaniel) Chalobah (at Nottingham Forest), and we have some others working and growing in the under-21s. Their standard is improving.
“Before, these age groups in England did not have a good level of competition at that age, but now there is a national championship, an under-19s Champions League, and it’s improving them.
“The conditions in our academy cannot be better — the facilities and coaches are amazing — but while the quality of the coaching and the philosophy can be excellent, you really need competition to develop the kids.”
Terry’s status as club captain seemed under threat last season after he lost his place under former coach Rafael Benitez, but he has started every league game since Mourinho’s return.
“He’s recovering his self-esteem,” said Mourinho.
“In the last few years he was not playing a lot, he had problems on the pitch, he had problems outside the pitch, he had suspensions for different reasons, he had injuries, he had managers who didn’t trust him enough. And it looked like, at a certain moment, his career was going in the wrong direction.
“Even I was questioning, from far away, what was happening to this guy: physical problems, psychological problems, what is going on? I’m happy he’s proving he’s still a top player.”