The story goes like this. In 1955, Chelsea were chasing an unexpected league title when they lost a crucial home game, 6-5 to Manchester United. Manager Ted Drake, devastated at a result that could have cost Chelsea their first trophy never mind championship, took a phone call later that evening from the club’s chief scout. He expected the scout to be equally disappointed about the result, but instead the man on the other end of the phone was elated.
That afternoon he had discovered Chelsea’s future, the best player the club would ever produce: Jimmy Greaves.
There was a similar feeling at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, where Chelsea fans emerged from the ground in extraordinarily good spirits despite witnessing a 4-3 defeat to Newcastle United.
A 17-year-old called Josh McEachran, who came on when Chelsea were 3-1 down with 30 minutes remaining and went to give a display of such confidence and string-pulling panache that some older fans were saying it was the best debut from a youth player since Osgood’s, while others were comparing him with Cruyff and Xavi.
Well, perhaps. It’s important not to get too carried away. Recent Twitter antihero Leon Knight was described as the ‘new Zola’ in the 1990s and he’s now agitating for a move to Rushden & Diamonds. But when you see a performance of this maturity from a 17-year-old making his home debut for a team that is 3-1 down and playing with ten men, well, you are entitled to dream, aren’t you?