'It was easy to recruit for Chelsea' - How Mourinho helped attract Abraham & Mount to Stamford Bridge

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Jose Mourinho has a reputation for overlooking youngsters.

It is a perception that the Portuguese has repeatedly attempted to alter but there's no denying that very few academy stars were promoted to Chelsea's senior squad during his first spell in charge, between 2004 and 2007.

Indeed, with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich having taken over the year before Mourinho's arrival, the Blues spent millions of pounds on proven stars to establish themselves as a major force in the English game.

Nonetheless, Chelsea's former Development Centre officer Michael Beale says that Mourinho's much-publicised appointment and subsequent success – five major domestic trophies in three years – made his job much easier when it came to recruiting players.

Current Chelsea stars Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were all snapped up by the Blues during what Beale says was a "lovely time" to be at Stamford Bridge.

"We brought in Mourinho as manager and then we went from Battersea Park and Harlington to Cobham, which was an unbelievable training ground," Beale tells Goal.

"So, it was easy to recruit for Chelsea because they were a club people were looking at and very excited about.

"The problem [for the young players trying to break through at that time] was that Chelsea were one of the best teams in the world. They had five national team captains at one point!

"These guys were kings; they weren’t normal footballers. They are all legends now: [Michael] Ballack, [Frank] Lampard, Claude Makelele, William Gallas, [John] Terry, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Arjen Robben, [Didier] Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda.

Michael Beale quote GFX

"But having these names at the club inspired [the likes of Abraham, Mount and Loftus-Cheek] to join. On top of that, Neil Bath ran a fantastic academy and had a big vision for the academy.

"Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s age group was the first that I coached at 9 or 10. We also had Ola Aina, Dom Solanke, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James and Rhian Brewster at seven or eight. I coached Josh McEachran too, as well as Declan Rice, Eddie Nketiah and Jeremie Boga.

"I used to pick Tammy Abraham up from Peckham at his house and drop him off at training in Battersea. Wow, there were so many stars to speak about!

"I’ve got fond memories of knowing the Chelsea lads from six or seven years old. When I look back, I loved every minute and now it is clear to me that we were doing good work.

"I think over the years it has been difficult for people like Neil Bath because players have not always been given the opportunity. Now, though, it must be fantastic for him and the players, because, in the past, they would have had a lot of sleepless nights."

Beale was left just as frustrated by the fact that so few academy players graduated to the first team and left for Liverpool, where he would first encounter Steven Gerrard, whom he now works under at Rangers.

"I didn’t believe in what I was saying to the parents anymore," the Gers' first-team coach now admits. "I was getting frustrated. I wasn’t willing to be quiet about the lack of opportunity so, rather than be disruptive, I thought it was best to move on.

Steven Gerrard Rangers 2019-20

"Liverpool came in and what an opportunity it was! It wasn’t that the grass was greener but it was cut differently at Liverpool, so I was pleased.

"But I am glad that young talent now gets the chance at Chelsea. There’s no doubt that English football now recognises the excellent work done at under-age level at Chelsea.

"Now we see a system where Nathaniel Chalobah's younger brother Trevoh may get the chance that Nathaniel didn't."

Beale is also delighted that many of the coaches that worked at the Chelsea academy are now enjoying success elsewhere.

Two members of Lampard's current backroom team, Jody Morris and Joe Edwards, both came out of Cobham, while Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers was appointed as youth team head coach by Mourinho.

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Elsewhere, Adi Viveash is presently the assistant manager at League One leaders Coventry City, Paul Clement has worked at both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, while Steve Holland is Gareth Southgate's right-hand man for England.

"Look at Joe Edwards or Andy Myers too," Beale enthuses. "We also had Dermot Drummy, Eddie Newton, Damien Matthew and Steve Clark (now Scotland manager) when I came in.

"It has really been a conveyor belt for coaches coming through that academy – not just players. Chelsea have reaped the rewards of the academy in terms of coaches too."