European football means more fatigue and fewer training sessions for Pochettino – but fans will be delighted

Chelsea’s season is just one game away from completion, and it’s going to end on a high.

The Blues are up into 6th, the highest position they’ve managed all season, after a win over Brighton. They have a very winnable game at home against Bournemouth to end the campaign on Sunday, and all indications from bookies and online casinos seems to be that we will beat the Cherries and make it to Europa League football.

It’s not entirely within our control – we still need Man City to do the business against Man U at Wembley in the FA Cup final. But regardless, we will be playing European football of some description next season, and that’s all we wanted out of this campaign.

The Europa Conference league is not glamorous – and when we end up on an away trip to post-industrial Poland or a Greek port city that will become even more clear, but it is a concrete sign of progress over this year, when we had no continental competition at all.

It will add a good chunk of games to our calendar, something which the coach won’t be too happy about, but does mean plenty more chances for young players to have a go. That’s vital for this model which we’ve embarked on – in order to increase the value of these assets, they’ve got to see the field, but the Premier League is not the place to experiment.

The vast majority of next year’s European teams, whether that’s in the Europa League or Conference League, will be an interesting blend of Cobham talent and recent Clearlake imports. At the moment the supporters who like to see the academy used to its full potential are frustrated by the blockages to home grown talent imported to the first team at great expense.

European football will provide a great release valve for that, and we’re already looking forward to seeing some of the players who have done so well at U18 level this season getting chances in the months and years to come.

There will be a lot more flying, a lot less training, and probably some frustrating injuries too. But after a year out of Europe entirely we can’t be picky. Let’s face it, an unusual excess of training sessions this season didn’t lead to any sort of miracle improvement, and we often looked as fatigued as our opposition who played in midweek when we didn’t.

It should be a great next step for this group and we can’t wait.

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