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Name Pat Nevin
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2019 07 04 Retrieve

[Frank Lampard has seen Gary Neville and Jose Mourinho offered up as warnings of how icon status is no guarantee of success in management] First and foremost, when has there been a worse time to take over as manager of Chelsea? There may well be plenty of money at the club but that isn’t going to help Frank in the short term if he cannot spend it. The two-window transfer ban is still being contested, but if Chelsea lose that fight then the coming season brings a whole host of problems to contend with.

Any boss would be worried after losing the irreplaceable Eden Hazard, who has left for Real Madrid. There could also be a gap to fill in midfield, with hints that Jorginho - a playmaker I like - may leave. Yes, they have signed Mateo Kovacic permanently from Real Madrid, but even a player with the engine of N’Golo Kante might struggle to fill the holes that remain. Also, Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek both suffered serious long-term Achilles injuries which may take as much as a season to fully recover from. A hugely experienced manager would find these difficulties hard to overcome, never mind a newbie. Given all those challenges surely Frank, with his history, doesn’t have to be successful right away?

[Nevin added on the challenges Lampard faces] Is it disrespectful to question whether Frank is making the right decision by taking this job so early in his managerial career? If things go wrong at the start it can destroy your chances going forward. Just look at the stick Gary Neville took after his stint at Valencia went belly up. Sir Alex Ferguson was sacked from his first job at St Mirren - although he did bounce back quite well! You have to be good, but you also have to have good timing in management. Frank had the best timing I have ever seen in a footballer when it came to arriving in the box, but the timing of his arrival as Chelsea manager could have been better, even if it is through no fault of his own.

Football is littered with the names of club legends who went back to manage at their spiritual homes. When it doesn’t work out the dirty deed has to be done and for a while at least the legend is tarnished. I never want it to happen to Frank because I like and respect so much of what he has done and also the man he has turned out to be. Had he taken this job four or five years down the line, his chances of success would have been much better, but he knows there is no certainty the chance would come around again. Yes Chelsea have a habit of making that role available pretty regularly, but Frank would have had to continue being a success elsewhere, and sometimes it is not in your control to keep that success rolling on continuously. Club finances, ownership changes and something as simple as a bunch of injuries can lead to a fairly short-term bad spell and you know what that means in this industry. Mourinho was the most legendary manager the club has ever had and he was sacked, twice!

2019 08 06 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says One of Christian Pulisic, Willian & Pedro will flourish in Eden Hazard’s absence] We did also lose a world great in the summer obviously, but just maybe that will allow more opportunities for others to flourish. Do not be surprised if one of Pedro, Willian or indeed Christian Pulisic has an unusually productive season. Eden understandably was the go-to man when we attacked, but now others will get more service, it will almost certainly have a positive effect on at least one of them. They will never say they were happy to see Eden leave because nobody was, but these players in particular will grasp at the positives

[The likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also want to help counter the loss of Hazard once they come into the thinking of new Blues boss Frank Lampard] So last season we rightly got excited about Callum and Ruben as they improved incredibly quickly throughout the season. It is sad and feels hugely unfair that both have literally been stopped in their tracks by similar injuries. When they return it will be like two fabulous new signings, but in the meantime during pre-season there have been a few standout players that might also have huge seasons this time round. Taking nothing away from any other players battling to get up to match speed, both Pulisic and Ross Barkley in particular have been quite superb. Both have been fast, positive, confident and played with a real freedom. They appear to be mirroring what the new staff want to see and what we want to see, too. If they can play to that level in the Premier League then the ultimate goal of reaching the top four may not be out of our grasp, even with all the odds stacked against us

2019 08 20 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin urge Lampard learn from Klopp’s ‘heavy metal tactics’ as Chelsea wait on first win] Playing the high tempo game Frank wants and that we are already enjoying is not easy. It is interesting to see that Jurgen Klopp adapts his heavy metal football tactics when he thinks his players need a little break. This dilemma of weariness v work rate may not be a concern for a few weeks now, but it will return when the Champions League group stage starts. Playing on a Tuesday or Wednesday and then returning to face a rested side at the weekend is something that has to be managed. When too many players are tired the game opens up, the play gets stretched and because of that James Maddison in particular got acres of space in the number 10 position on Sunday, something that should never be allowed

The system itself was bold once more, with [N’Golo] Kante pushing forward from the right of the midfield and Mason Mount playing left midfield but attacking as often as possible.It was the Frank Lampard position of doing a box-to-box shift but most interested in the opposition box. The same players could easily shift from a 4-3-3, to a 4-2-3-1, to a diamond in midfield. The biggest problem wasn’t tactical in the end, it was the fact that we had to make some changes after the hour, but to be honest there were just too many tired players out there. Olivier Giroud, Jorginho and Christian Pulisic were subbed but I would not have batted an eyelid if it had been Mason, or even N’Golo or Pedro. The latter two both had injuries to contend with to add to the tiredness. That is the game at the top level, and it is all about finding answers to these sometimes seemingly intractable problems

[Nevin went on to say, with Chelsea next in action against Norwich] It is disappointing to have only one point after two games, so we are now desperate for a win in the next one. A start of one or two points out of nine would be the last thing Frank wanted. Fortunately there is a willingness to understand the difficulties and there is unlikely to be any real pressure coming from the stands in the short term, which really helps the players. In tough times having the Chelsea fans onside makes a huge difference

2019 10 01 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin claims Eden Hazard may have been a stylish penalty taker for Chelsea but Jorginho’s no-look approach makes him even deadlier from 12 yards] I know we all loved Eden Hazard’s stunningly stylish penalties over the past few seasons, but honestly I think Jorginho’s method is even better than his. Chelsea fans still have our number five’s missed penalty against Man City in the Carabao Cup shoot-out at Wembley in mind. In open play he has only ever missed one penalty, and he scored on the rebound with that one. His numbers are great, but it is the way that he does that little hop, sends the keeper one way and then calmly rolls it the other way that impresses me. It impresses me almost as much as the fact that he doesn’t look at the ball when he kicks it.

Even Eden has to look at the ball a millisecond before he takes his penalties. Usually by then, the keeper has moved anyway, but Jorginho never looks down. It is an amazing ability and one few keepers have ever had to deal with before anywhere else in the world. I will admit that my heart was in my mouth when he stepped up [against Brighton], after me telling the world how great his penalties were just the day before, but I needn’t have worried. I do hope he can keep taking them for a long time, even if he misses the odd one. It will look bad when he does miss, as the keeper will just bend down and pick it up without needing to dive, but everybody eventually misses now and again. Stick by him and we will almost certainly benefit

2019 10 08 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Juventus and Manchester City would have taken Jorginho in a heartbeat had he become available over the summer] To be honest I thought Jorginho was fabulous last season as well and didn’t buy into the no-forward-passing problem being his fault or even true. It was the style of the team and in the end it was successful as we know. There were even a few occasions when he was booed at the Bridge last season and it really upset me. He is the bravest player you will ever meet because of where and how often he takes the ball.

He also controls games as well as just about anyone on the planet just now. Happily Frank agrees and has let him off the leash to be more positive and take a few chances going forward more quickly. I agree it is even better now than it was last season for our number five. Everyone else does seem to be seeing his attributes now though and it is a huge relief. I would have hated to lose him to Juventus or Manchester City, because that is the standard of clubs that would have grabbed him in a heartbeat

2019 10 08b Retrieve

[Pat Nevin claims Willian has suffered from playing in the same teams as Eden Hazard and Neymar] The final joyous recovery is of course Willian who has been sparkling of late. He was getting the bird for a while too but I have my suspicions for the reasons why. His work load and schedule has been ridiculous for years with the travelling back to Brazil to play in their myriad games from World Cup qualifiers, Copa America and all the final tournaments themselves. He has had very little rest time for quite a few seasons now and I think you could see the wear and tear affecting him.

His game isn’t that of a winger only, he always works back as well and with both Brazil and Chelsea in the last few years he has suffered from playing on the ‘other’ wing to one of the best players in the world (Neymar and Hazard). Neither of those two players are noted for their covering back, so as the other winger you have to compensate and do more work.

I am not surprised Willian is having a good time. A little less pressure from the national side, more time on the ball now that Eden has gone, a manager who encourages constant attacking play which suits him and now the fans giving him all the backing. This could well be a golden season for the 31-year-old in a Chelsea shirt, just as everyone else is talking about the kids

[Nevin is delighted to see patience being rewarded, with the process of getting academy graduates into the senior side not as easy as many like to make out] They are the product of not being rushed when they weren’t ready. Tammy, for example, had to fill out physically and learn the game out on loan. He did that in a well-structured and orderly way. His technical ability improved, he learned about the pressures and how to cope with them and had a good look at how tough it is in other divisions and at the wrong end of the table.

He has come back with the equivalent of an honours degree in men’s first-team football. So, yes, he has been given a chance but do not ignore all the work and consideration put into the development at every stage. For years we all had to put up with the sniping about the size of Chelsea’s on-loan troupe and how the club was getting it so wrong. We are not really hearing much of that now are we? It was probably difficult for the club to stay focused, stick with and believe in that method when the flak was flying but to their credit they did so

2019 10 24 Retrieve

[Chelsea urged against post-ban spending spree as ex-Blues star says they can be Europe’s best young side] Our young side have just deservedly beaten Ajax, the best young side in Europe, at their own ground and it was no fluke, Chelsea were the better team. If we do the double over them on 5 November, does that then make us the best young side in Europe? If it does, then should Frank take a chance on ruining that progress with a bunch of new signings?

Why for example would you even consider buying, say, another centre-forward when Tammy Abraham has been superb and is absolutely definitely going to get even better? Well there could be a dip in form or an injury, or indeed he might just need a rest at some point. We have got other strikers already on the roster. Michy’s goals-to-minutes-played figures are off the scale again this season for club and country, but what club or indeed manager would turn down a world-class player if he suddenly became available?

I hadn’t considered it at all this season, because with Chelsea lying fourth in the Premier League, who cares about next season right at this moment? Well the club has to, Frank has to and doing things at the last moment on a whim is generally not considered the best way to bring long-term success to any club. So forward planning is a given. I suspect there will be a bit of a war chest available to Frank by the summertime, but unlike other clubs around us, such as Manchester United and maybe even Spurs, it doesn’t look like a whole new outfit is needed, just a few little jewels added to make the whole thing sparkle even more.

I wouldn’t be surprised however if the club takes precisely the opposite approach to previous seasons when these acquisitions are considered. During the ‘Roman era’, how many world-class strikers of a certain age have come to the Bridge with, it has to be a said, varying levels of success? I almost can’t imagine Frank doing that, but I can imagine the scouts being sent out around the planet to find the next hot young thing who would fit into, or more likely grow into, this group and this system.

2019 10 25 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Christian Pulisic is not too far off becoming the player Chelsea believed he would be when snapping him up for £58 million] Christian Pulisic is now showing the signs of the player he will become for Chelsea. Unless you are a Blues obsessive, before the last two substitute game-changing appearances against Newcastle and Ajax, you might not have known that the American had produced some superb moments previously.

You might not have known that the skill, vision and pace attributes of his game are already in place. It seems obvious now though that it all just had to be fitted together within the structure of the team. After his last two appearances, many Chelsea fans will agree it doesn’t seem to be too far off

2019 10 26 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin believes that, despite a slow start, Pulisic’s potential is starting to be unlocked] Christian Pulisic is now showing the signs of the player he will become for Chelsea. Unless you are a Blues obsessive, before the last two substitute game-changing appearances against Newcastle and Ajax, you might not have known that the American had produced some superb moments previously. You might not have known that the skill, vision and pace attributes of his game are already in place. It seems obvious now though that it all just had to be fitted together within the structure of the team. After his last two appearances, many Chelsea fans will agree it doesn’t seem to be too far off

2019 10 29 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Christian Pulisic has been tipped to become the prized asset in the Chelsea side] He is another player Chelsea fans can get rightly excited about. In fact I will not be surprised if over time he becomes the prized asset in the side, he really does have that much ability

Fortunately he seems to be the sort of guy who just wants to do it for the team. It doesn’t look or sound like an ego trip for him and I suspect that will go down extremely well with Frank Lampard. In a world where loud self-promotion and self-aggrandising is everywhere, isn’t it good to see that a nice quiet guy can get along just fine as well

It would be great to see him play against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup but there are a whole bunch of players who need games and Frank will think long and hard about this one. It is not easy for Frank to decide and gone are the days when you said, ‘It’s only the Carabao Cup, we should just play the kids’. These days you are more likely to say, ‘It is the Carabao Cup, let’s rest the kids and give some of the more established players a chance’.

The likes of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi would definitely love some game time and anyone who we can get back from injury would also be desperate for a go. The likes of [N’Golo Kante](n-golo-kante.html), Emerson, Andreas Christensen, Toni Rudiger, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Pedro all must be watching on and thinking they would love to be playing every week. The only way you can do that is to let the manager see you doing well against the likes of a Manchester United

2019 11 30 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin on Virgil van Dijk] Virgil van Dijk has been the best defender, midfielder and attacker on the pitch. He’s been ridiculous

2019 12 17 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Frank Lampard will not get involved with any of Jose Mourinho’s mind games ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Tottenham] To be honest, very few of the Chelsea fans are absolutely delighted with the current detour on Jose’s personal journey and I will be intrigued to see and indeed hear how our fans react to his presence. I think we all agree that we would have preferred him to choose just about any other team in the world but quite simply that is the business. As an ex-player, I can say that we are generally professional about it and for evidence just watch the respect in which Frank Lampard treats Jose. Due respect will be given but nothing more on the day. We put everything behind us and think of only one thing, how to win the match. If any player or coach forgets that and starts considering anything else such as personalities and history, there is a chance it could cloud your judgement and lead to mistakes. I am convinced Frank will be cold-hearted and clear during the 90 minutes, he has witnessed at first-hand what a genius Jose is at mind games and will not listen to anything in the build-up coming from north London

2019 12 24 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Mourinho the master of surprise but Lampard usurped him] There are plenty of top-flight managers that are wedded to one system or variations on one system. [Antonio] Conte was famously and successfully like that with us in his first season. But you take a chance if you become too rigid. Others can prepare all the more easily to block you. Maurizio Sarri was the same in terms of rigidity of system and he also managed to get success for a period, but there are times when adaptability is just as important, if not more. That is what has arguably been most impressive about Chelsea this season, the willingness to change and the ability to change for different situations

It is clear by Jose’s remarks that the changes Frank made, he absolutely didn’t see coming for a moment. Jose has often been the master of surprise and the unexpected, so it must have been quite a shock to be usurped in this area by a relatively new manager. Maybe even more surprising was that Jose didn’t seem to be able to react to it quickly enough either. He must have quickly spotted that things weren’t working but it was only when his side were 2-0 down that he brought on [Christian] Eriksen for[Eric] Dier and changed his team’s shape noticeably. For the man who has regularly made substitutions in the first half to save a situation he was surprisingly reticent to do it this time even though his team were second best by a distance. Maybe he didn’t want to upset any of his players this time, but that isn’t usually his modus operandi. So well done Frank but that is only round one against Jose Mourinho and doubtless he will be back with plans of his own next time. It must however secretly bolster our current coach’s belief in his tactical awareness, not that he had anything to be unsure about, but this was one of the big dogs in the game being outmanoeuvred and outthought

2019 12 31 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Frank Lampard & John Terry can top Pep Guardiola & Jurgen Klopp in next decade] Although this has been a decade of Pep, Jose and Jurgen, it may well be that the next decade could well be that of Frank, Stevie and in time some bloke called Terry as well. These guys have grown up in a progressive era when the ultra-positive Jurgen and Pep with their attacking philosophies were the leading lights. I very much like the look of the future for the game in that light. Much will happen in the next year, never mind decade. I reckon Chelsea with the youth organisation, and the innovation at many levels, could have as big an influence as they did on the last one

Three Premier League titles during the decade was incredible but add to that three FA Cups and a League Cup to boot and it is clearly a sensational run. In this context, the two Europa League trophy wins looks like us being on the greedy side but there was still the main course to devour. That night in Munich [Champions League final in 2012] where we gorged on glory, a night which can, and never will be forgotten must surely make this the greatest decade in our history.

Football fans the world over would be rightly jealous of any club that has had that sort of decade. From within it all, however, there is the feeling that for true Chelsea fans, absolutely none of this success is taken for granted. That is the real joy. There is still no expectation or even demand, just a want and love of winning. We know just how lucky we have been. While some other ‘world-class’ clubs seem to be quick to moan when the slightest thing goes wrong, the Chelsea way is to enjoy the ride

2020 01 07 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says Fit-again Callum Hudson-Odoi can keep Chelsea out of Wilfried Zaha market] It hasn’t been easy for Callum to get back to his sharpest self in matches and I suspect there are several reasons for that. Coming back from injury, especially a serious one, is different for every single player. When it is the first major injury of your pro career it can play with your mind a bit.

With any luck, that is him back and he will not have to consider that injury and those painful times again. The other thing of course was that while he was recuperating, other youngsters were stepping into his shoes, actually that should be ‘boots’ obviously.

They were his mates of course but from being the golden boy along with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, suddenly Tammy, Mason, Reece and Fikayo were getting all the plaudits once reserved for him. He wouldn’t have been jealous as such, but again somewhere deep down there must have been real pain that he was missing out while everyone else was having a ball, all because of a moment’s bad luck with that bizarre injury.

With Willian flying, Christian Pulisic having some fantastic games too and Pedro one of the most decorated players on the planet, it would have been daunting to think about getting back into the team. With all of them there between him and a starting berth, it takes a lot to keep on believing, smiling and being positive around the club. The performance at the weekend and the belief shown by the boss will have given him an enormous boost.

The thing I was waiting for wasn’t the goal he scored, but that first burst of pace that took him past a defender or indeed inside to create space. There was a decent amount of that sort of acceleration on Sunday and hopefully there is plenty more to come.

Callum has many talents, but that ability to go past defenders and disrupt organised defences is priceless in the modern game. Actually it has always been important but it is all the more noticeable now there are fewer players who can actually do it regularly.

This is the thing we have been missing more than anything else, at home particularly. A player who can drive past two or three defenders will be needed if we are to kill off the stuffy teams such as Bournemouth and Southampton among others. Maybe in Callum we already have this player at the club, even if the likes of Wilfried Zaha have been mentioned in dispatches

2020 01 07b Retrieve

[Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has revealed he nearly killed the club’s owner Roman Abramovich while on holiday in Scotland] About three years ago I was on holiday in Arran and I was driving up the north side of Arran. Every time you go on holiday there, you drive round the whole island. I came round a corner at the top just before Lochranza and I nearly hit a guy on a bike. I just got out the way at the last moment, I could have killed the guy. It was Roman Abramovich.

What a story that would have been if I had killed Roman Abramovich. I just missed him. His yacht was off the coast and he was cycling round. He doesn’t know to this day that it was me.

[He revealed Abramovich, who became owner of Chelsea in 2003, was a ‘shy’ man, who generally didn’t communicate with people unless approached first] I have met him quite a few times. He is phenomenally shy, he is an incredibly shy person. I was down DJing in London about two years ago. I was sitting in a sports place at the back of Stamford Bridge and he caught my eye.

People come over to him, he never walks over to them, it’s a bit like royalty. But I was sitting talking to this wee guy who is a DJ, a scruffy wee indie kid, and Roman starts walking right behind him towards me. I said ‘hi’ and shook his hand and the kid got the fright of his life. He nearly jumped out his skin

2020 01 14 Retrieve

[Reece James likened to Beckham as Chelsea legend talks up promising full-back] One skill that looks much easier than it first appears is sending in a vicious cross at pace, with perfect direction while on the run. Think of David Beckham at his best, his crossing was his finest attribute by far, and suddenly you realise that being brilliant at one particular skill can get you a very long way in the game. I mention Beckham because the quality of crossing that we see most weeks from Reece James reminds me of his level.

Hyperbole is common in football, but I hope I am not afflicted by the temptation to go down that route too often, so talking about Reece in that company hopefully means something. It is easy enough to put a ball into that area between the defence and the keeper but it is much harder to do it unerringly with pace so the defenders are scared to touch it, the keeper has no chance of coming out to collect it and all the forwards have to do is get on the end of it with any sort of touch. Kevin De Bruyne has that ability along with his many others, but it is rare to that level.

Reece is extraordinary in this area but looking at his performances of late it is becoming very clear that he is long away from being a one-trick pony. His tackling and recovery have been exceptional and still appear to be improving at a pace. His comfort on the ball is remarkable for one so young. In fact it is already impossible to think of him as a ‘raw’ 20-year-old.

He turned out last season for Wigan and as we all know, he was named player of the year for the Latics and had more appearances than anyone else at the club. That is superb in itself, but there were some seasoned Wigan fans at the end of the campaign who were seriously asking the question, ‘Is Reece James the best footballer ever to play for the club in its entire history?’ A bold suggestion, but even asking the question speaks volumes for a youngster only there for a season on loan

2020 01 21 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says none Chelsea’s player able to stand alongside English football’s top schemers] It is of course easy to say but if you were Willian or Callum Hudson-Odoi, every time you got the ball there were two and sometimes three players to get beyond. There are very few players who can do that, especially in such confined spaces. This is the reason why our Premier League goals-for column is so far behind the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. They have a raft of specialists for these exact situations.

Both these teams come up against this problem even more often than we do but the likes of David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah and Riyad Mahrez are masters of finding solutions. They get past defenders either by dribbling or by intelligent, brilliant intricate passing and movement. It is early days still for our ‘new’ team, especially in comparison with the two league leaders, but if there were a raft of problems I would be more concerned for the long term. I am sure Frank and his team are working diligently right now to find the solution. Get that one sorted and we will be in a very good place

2020 01 28 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek would be a good fit for Chelsea] The last day of the window has much in common with those Black Friday sales. The moment you get back in the house having half emptied your bank account, you realise those alternative purchases you panic-bought were nothing like the single thing you had your heart set on originally. This is why it is important to have a clear head and not get caught up in the madness this week. Have a plan and stick to it if you can

Another danger of panic buying is that everything hasn’t been considered, such as the player’s attitude, his fitness and the likelihood of him fitting in with the group. If you get a player who is on a big wage, maybe even bigger than your current players, it can cause discontentment. If he then doesn’t play every week after arriving and the players already there see him getting paid more than them for sitting on the bench or in the stands, then expect a few knocks on the door and demands for renewed upgraded contracts. They will understandably demand, at the very least, parity of pay.

So, there are unexpected effects of unwise January buys and the clubs need to be wary of these. Fortunately, Chelsea aren’t in a bad position compared with others in this regard

There is a desire to improve the squad, there always is and always should be, but it isn’t exactly a desperate situation. The market knows this and as such we should be able to make a deal or two if we want to, that is still good value. There have been plenty of reports in the ether regarding Chelsea, from Wilfried Zaha at Palace to Piatek at Milan and who knows how serious or informed any of these stories are. Most of the names mentioned have been impressive and obviously well-researched by the club’s people. Piatek would have been one of my first options a year ago, so I believe they are ‘all over’ the available players in the market that Frank Lampard has been interested in

2020 03 14 Retrieve

[Billy Gilmour has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence, but Chelsea legend Pat Nevin says a midfielder being branded Billyesta by a new-found fan base is no overnight success] An entire nation seems to have woken up to the talent that our young Scottish midfielder has, since then that rise has been nothing short of meteoric. The plaudits are coming in not only from the pundits but from everywhere else. Chelsea fans, writers, former players and admirers from other clubs have not been slow to come forward. As with all overnight successes, it isn’t really overnight, Billy has been working a lifetime, albeit a pretty short one so far, building up to this moment

He never looked like fluffing his lines in front of a surprised, then intrigued and finally hugely impressed audience. He was Man of the Match against Liverpool and then carried on in precisely the same vein against Everton six days later. The Chelsea fan base is gobsmacked at this arrival and that is saying something considering we have enjoyed recent breakthroughs from Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and well, you know the rest of the list. Billy has got a new nickname already in Billyesta, the chants have started with his name, some of us are already suggesting he should be added to the full Scotland national team squad, me included. Every newspaper, football website and commentator has been purring over his performances. This is just one week after many football fans outside Chelsea might have reasonably said, Billy who?

The good news is that Billy will get huge amounts of backing from everyone if and when there is a little dip or an injury. I know this because listening to Frank [Lampard] he totally understands everything all the youngsters are going through and is hugely supportive. Talking to Billy, he feels confident that not only the gaffer and the back room staff have his back but the players are incredibly supportive to

2020 03 27 Retrieve

[Pat Nevin says there are few positives to take from the current situation] We in the UK are only entering the first days of the lockdown and nobody is sure how long this planetary pandemic will paralyse the Premier League, but when it finishes it is certain that most of the players who have been injured will be fully fit by then and ready to start up again. Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and [N’Golo Kante](n-golo-kante.html) will each have had a very long period to let their various problems clear up. There are very few benefits for anyone during the current crisis and you wouldn’t crassly celebrate them anyway, but not only will these players be ready, willing and able when football starts again, they will also not have the huge disadvantage of having to catch up with match fitness to everyone else’s level. Absolutely no-one will have that mid-season match fitness right off the bat when a Premier League referee finally blows a whistle in anger once again, so they will all be on a proverbial, as well as literal, level playing field. Everyone on the planet is looking forward to and hoping for a clean bill of health, and players will be feeling the same be it virus or injury

2020 05 26 Retrieve

[Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin says Extended break could prolong Willian’s career] We always used to say that five or six weeks was around the minimum to get back after a big break in the summer, but in reality that rarely ever happens for many of the players now. With World Cups, Euros, Copa America and so on, how often do you really get that entire summer off now? This has been the kind of break a modern player only ever gets after a long-term injury. How strange that at a time when we are surrounded by the dreadful news of the terrible consequences of Covid-19 for so many people, this break in some ways might turn out to be a great help to the fitness and health of some players in long term. I look at someone like Willian and think, at his age and with the miles he has already put on the clock, a prolonged break will have done him the world of good. It might even prolong his and quite a few other careers. He and the rest will still have to go through the pain of what is essentially a pre-season regime which is never easy but the next question is, will they really be match fit in time for the big restart? Maybe a better question would be, does it matter? That might sound odd, but if every player at every club has the same limited time to get near to their peak, what difference does it make if they are all at 85 per cent instead of 95 per cent? Surely no one then has gained an unfair advantage in these circumstances. The games may be a bit slower to start with, as I think they have been in the Bundesliga, but surely that is fine if they are all in the same boat. There is of course the possibility of injury to players if they have not got themselves in absolutely perfect shape and I would not argue against that for a second. Yes, there is some increased risk there, but it might be worth it in extreme times and it has been slightly mitigated anyway by the slower pace, the possibility of using five subs and of course the larger size of the squads these days. Players also must use their match intelligence in a different way too, conserving energy when you can is an art, it is still used well be many players, especially those in the over-30 category. The team might have to play a lot of games in a short period of time, but all the players will not have to play in all the games. It is up to those at the clubs to intelligently use the bigger squads that are available to them these days. They have larger squads now than they have had at any time in history.

2020 06 25 Retrieve

[Azpilicueta having difficultly remembering his role!] Cesar Azpilicueta has great difficulty in remembering where a right full-back is supposed to play! And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Dave was brilliant throughout, with a whole bunch of quality crosses, and he spent more time positioned as a right winger than he did as a right full-back

My thinking before the game was that he would have his hands and head full keeping Jack Grealish quiet, but he decided he would be even more creative than one of the Premier League’s most exciting and creative players. If you are playing number 10 and you get two assists, one from the right wing and one from the left wing in open play, you would be very happy, but doing that from right-back was amazing. I did some analysis just before the shutdown saying I thought he was becoming one of our most dangerous attackers and it got a few raised eyebrows in response. It doesn’t seem in the slightest bit weird now. He even had a near-post header at Villa Park that was unlucky to miss

2020 06 30 Retrieve

[Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour is being backed to play his way through a first form dip of his senior career, with Pat Nevin pointing out to a fellow Scot that nobody cruises through a career without difficult times] It may be that some of the younger players will have a dip in form, that is not something to be too concerned about, that has happened since the dawn of history in the game. It is part of the learning curve and they will be fine. Billy Gilmour had a tough afternoon at the King Power Stadium, but will that have a lasting effect? Yes it will, but in a good way. No one in the history of the game cruises through a career from day one without difficult times. You have to learn how to cope with it. He will be fine not only because of his talent and personality but also because of the management team and the kind of team-mates he has around him. He will be back on the pitch soon enough with their support and of course ours