Hid­dink calls on his suc­ces­sor to stick with youth

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL/BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Jon Cul­ley at Villa Park

Guus Hid­dink will urge his suc­ces­sor as Chelsea man­ager to see youth as the fu­ture and en­sure that the tal­ented play­ers emerg­ing from the club’s academy have a clear path­way to the first team.

Jose Mour­inho, whose sack­ing made way for Hid­dink’s re­turn as in­terim man­ager in De­cem­ber, was no­to­ri­ous for his dis­trust of Chelsea’s academy grad­u­ates, de­spite owner Ro­man Abramovich in­vest­ing an es­ti­mated £100 mil­lion in creat­ing a pro­duc­tion line for home-grown stars.

Part of Hid­dink’s brief was to change this at­ti­tude. The side he put out at Villa Park on Satur­day in­cluded an 18-year-old mak­ing his se­nior de­but off the bench, three 20-year-olds and a 21-year-old.

“When you have an academy as Chelsea have had for a long time, then as a con­se­quence you must give these guys the chance to step up,” Hid­dink said.

“It is not easy to bring in three or four who have not had ex­pe­ri­ence but be­cause we can­not any more win any­thing this sea­son it is a lit­tle eas­ier and we will bring in these guys a lit­tle more fre­quently.

“The next man­ager will see that things are set up for the young play­ers to have a chance of pro­gres­sion.”

Mid­fielder Ruben Lof­tus-Cheek com­pleted 90 min­utes in the Premier League for the first time, scor­ing his first goal, winger Kenedy made his fourth Premier League start, and 18-year-old de­fender Jake Clarke-Salter ap­peared af­ter 74 min­utes.

There was a de­but, too, for 20-year-old for­mer New York Red Bulls de­fender Matt Mi­azga, signed for £3.5 mil­lion in Jan­uary, who played the whole match along­side Branislav Ivanovic in the cen­tre af­ter both John Terry and Gary Cahill were ruled out by in­jury, while 21-year-old Baba Rah­man, the Ghana­ian bought for an eye-wa­ter­ing £21.7 mil­lion last sum­mer, Dream de­but: Alexan­dre Pato scored and set up two had his sixth start at left­back. An­other 20-yearold, Ber­trand Traoré, who has scored four se­nior goals un­der Hid­dink, was an un­used sub­sti­tute.

Mi­azga per­haps made the big­gest im­pres­sion. He and Ivanovic com­pe­tently dealt with the threat of Villa’s Rudy Gest­ede and Jor­dan Ayew and Chelsea sup­port­ers are al­ready talk­ing about the 6ft 4in New Jersey na­tive suc­ceed­ing Terry and form­ing a longterm partnership with side­lined 21-year-old Kurt Zouma.

“It is not easy to play against Gest­ede, but Mi­azga did well in the duels and showed that he has the po­ten­tial,” Hid­dink said. “To be hon­est, this was not the tough­est of games and you will have to con­sider how he does in the real bat­tles, but it is a good first step up for him.”

For all Chelsea’s youth, the match over­all still re­sem­bled men against boys, with Villa cast in the lat­ter iden­tity. Alexan­dre Pato, at last given a de­but 64 days af­ter ar­riv­ing on loan from Corinthi­ans, con­verted a first-half stop­page-time penalty af­ter Lof­tus-Cheek had opened the scor­ing and twice com­bined with Os­car on the left in set­ting up Pe­dro to score two more af­ter the break.

Villa fans turned on some of their own play­ers, harshly in the case of blame­less goal­keeper Brad Guzan. Yet with ef­fec­tively only one de­feat now be­tween them and the end of a 28-year run in the top divi­sion, their dis­plea­sure is easy to com­pre­hend.

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