Exit interview: An accident waiting to happen to a vital cog - the Trevoh Chalobah Experience was a joy to watch
- Credit: Archant
Trevoh Chalobah played 44 games for Ipswich Town during his loan spell from Chelsea. ANDY WARREN takes a look at his season at Portman Road.
His Town story
Nobody knew what to expect when a teenage Chelsea loanee, with an unusual haircut, arrived in Suffolk on June 25, on the day the Blues began pre-season training.
But he came amid glowing reviews and great pedigree, both in the Chelsea youth system and at international level.
He ended up playing more games (44) than anybody expected and became an important part of the team.
Whether a teenager with no senior experience should have been leaned on from the off and whether that, along with signing so many players with little to no Championship pedigree, played a part in Ipswich's downfall is of course up for debate. But that shouldn't cast a shadow over the undoubted improvement in Chalobah over the course of the campaign.
'The Trevoh Chalobah Experience' accurately summed up watching the youngster in action during the early weeks of the season. The talent was obvious; he had drive in his legs, a good passing range and was inventive. But the trade off was you had to watch him play through your fingers due to the fact a mistake never felt too far away.
For every defence-splitting run or raking pass he turned into trouble or gave the ball away in dangerous situations.
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The learning curve was steep but a true pleasure to watch.
As the season went on, Chalobah improved. Those nervy moments became less frequent and his influence on games grew and, by the end, he was a vital member of the Ipswich midfield, missed when he wasn't there.
Playing in such a difficult environment, with a team rooted to the bottom of the table, could have broken some young players but Chalobah used it as an opportunity to grow and develop.
While playing in front of such a supportive and encouraging crowd certainly helped, he appears to be a young man capable of blocking out all the outside noise and concentrating on the job in hand.
Whichever direction Chalobah's career goes in from here, he's sure to remember his time at Portman Road and feel the benefits for years to come.
What went well
First there was the equaliser at home to Aston Villa in August, when optimism was high, then an expert cross for Kayden Jackson's superb header against Brentford, before his dramatic winning goal at Swansea looked as if it would be the springboard for Paul Hurst's Blues to really begin their season.
Sadly it wasn't, but Chalobah kept on growing.
In the days following Paul Lambert's appointment, the club put out a video of the Scot walking his loanee through a succession of training drills at Playford Road.
There's a sense Lambert's work on the training ground really benefited Chalobah - and so it should given the Town boss is a Champions League-winning midfielder in his own right.
As the season went on he began to exert himself more and more on games, with the 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest in March a good example of this.
His introduction just before half-time changed the game, as he won the ball back for his team time and again, putting them on the front foot during one of the most exciting halves of football Portman Road saw this season.
He's by no means the finished product, of course, but the signs are good.
Areas to improve
Chalobah has improved throughout the course of the season, no question, but he still has lapses in concentration and moments where you fear the worst.
The most recent example saw him lose possession in the lead-up to Swansea's winning goal at Portman Road, while he was also loose on the ball in the next game once introduced as a substitute at Sheffield United.
He could also be stronger in the tackle and more dominant in the air, given his physical stature, but those sides of his game will come. He's only 19, we must remember.
He arrived as a defender but leaves, in his own mind at least, a midfielder. That position certainly does seem to suit him better.
His one start in the middle of defence came under Bryan Klug's caretaker management, away at Millwall. It was a disaster as he was bullied in the air by both Jake Cooper and Tom Elliott, although this sample size is perhaps a little unfair.
While versatility is useful, nailing down a position will surely benefit him in the long-run.
What the future holds
It's clear that Chalobah is destined for big things, but where he will be playing his football next season is anyone's guess.
Chelsea had more than 40 players out on loan this season and will do so again next year, even though they are banned from signing new players for the next two transfer windows.
He was back training with the Chelsea first-team yesterday with manager Maurizio Sarri impressed with what he saw.
Though a push to be in the first-team squad is certainly possible, Chalobah figures to be loaned out once again. After battling relegation during his first season as a pro, his parent club are likely to want the teenager to be part of a more successful side.
Another Championship loan is likely, with former Chelsea man Frank Lampard having two young players from his old club (Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount) with him at Derby this season, but a foreign move can't be ruled out. Chelsea's link with Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem has seen many British youngsters travel to Holland in recent years.
Whatever's next for Chalobah, there are sure to be plenty of Ipswich supporters who follow his career with great interest.