Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims Chelsea are reaping the rewards of their rising talents’ rich loan experiences.
United travel to Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Wednesday night to face an in-form Chelsea side searching for an eighth successive win in all competitions.
Academy graduates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are among those leading Chelsea’s charge this season, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James also firmly in the picture.
And Solskjaer says the benefits many of those players have gained from successful loan spells in the Premier League, Championship or overseas is what currently sets them apart from the majority of his United youngsters, who have been promoted straight to the first team from the academy.
“It [Chelsea] is a very exciting team,” Solskjaer said. “Frank has got players that have been on loan for one or two seasons in the Championship.
“The difference between my youngsters is that they are almost stepping right now onto the scene. Axel Tuanzebe has missed the last couple of games for us [through injury] but he has been out on loan and you can see the benefit and I think Chelsea’s young players benefit from that now. They are a mature young team.”
United beat Chelsea 4-0 in their opening Premier League match of the season but Solskjaer believes the scoreline was misleading. Pogba was also instrumental in that game but, with the France midfielder ruled out until early December, the manager has challenged Fred and Pereira to step up after encouraging showings from the Brazil midfielders in recent games against Liverpool and Norwich City, the Telegraph report.
“I think Frank has done a good job – the performance against us was good,” he said. “The result was bad but we held our hands up then and said ‘Yep, 4-0, flattering’.
“We got pegged back, they pressed us but we scored two goals within a minute, the second and third, which decided the game for us. But we didn’t think we were 4-0 better than them. It is going to be an interesting game. We don’t make it easy for ourselves in the cups with the draws.
“The two Brazilians, Fred and Andreas, with their energy and drive, they are going to be important for us. Fred will probably take Paul’s position for a while now and that’s been brilliant for us and Andreas has grown in the last few games. His energy and running, chasing, he is a different sort of No. 10. Great professional, great attitude. He does his job to the best of his abilities.
“There is no use talking about who is not going to be here for a long, long time, because he is not going to come on the pitch and help us until he is fit. Paul’s been brilliant and he is a creative midfielder that we need but now it is up to the others to step up.”