American soccer star Christian Pulisic had his season paused well before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to English Premier League games last month.
The Chelsea forward showed flashes of promise in his first season in England. But there remains room to grow for the 21-year-old, according to NBC studio analyst Robbie Mustoe.
“We have to see more and we have to see consistency for him to stay a really important part of what [Chelsea coach] Frank Lampard wants to do,” Mustoe said on the latest episode of The 2 Robbies podcast alongside Robbie Earle.
Mustoe and Earle broke down two more teams in their State of the Premier League series. Pulisic and Chelsea were on the docket this week along with Leicester City.
Chelsea fielded a young squad in 2019-20. Expectations were “not quite as highly strung and as pressured to win titles quickly before [owner Roman] Abramovich goes ‘Right, next guy in,’” according to Mustoe.
The Blues embarked on a new era at Stamford Bridge, but were hampered by a transfer ban that – for now – changes the calculus for Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who hired club-legend Lampard despite just one year of managing experience at Derby County one level down in the English Championship league.
Patience isn’t usually in abundance at a big club like Chelsea, but will be necessary. For Earle, patience is good but the former Premier League striker has been “hugely impressed with [Lampard]” in the early stages of his managerial career at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Leicester City continues to chug along competing with the biggest clubs in England four years after stunning the world with its EPL championship after beginning the 2015-16 season as a 5,000-1 shot.
The Foxes finished 12th in 2016-17 and ninth the past two seasons. But instead of fading, they again pushed for a spot in the Champions League for next season. The two Robbies discussed whether a smaller club like Leicester City can continue to compete at this level.
Earle was strong in his belief that Leicester “might be here to stay in this Top 6” based on their manager, Brendan Rodgers, and what he has been able to accomplish this season with a largely youth-based squad. Mustoe cautioned that optimism some because bigger clubs across Europe are sure to come after those young, home-grown players.
“If they can keep some of their better young players - that’s such a big if trying to persuade them that they shouldn’t aspire or think about moves to some of the big boys in England,” Mustoe said.
If they do, the Foxes could be good for quite a while. As for another Premier League club trying to push its way back toward the Top 6, the 2 Robbies touched on the continuing news surrounding Newcastle’s potential new ownership group.
For Earle, if the proposed Saudi-backed ownership group takes over it could be a game changer for a club with plenty of history – six FA Cups, a league championship as recently as 1993 and 87 years in the top flight – but has been relegated twice in the past decade and has finished in the Top Six just once in the past 13 EPL seasons. Newcastle as 13th when play was stopped this year.
“Give [manager] Rafa Benitez money, give him some time, he can make this a Top 6 team,” Earle said. “There’s some bridges to be built in Newcastle Football Club [but] if this football club can get focus back on football, then it can have a bright future.”
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