Chelsea have deemed their involvement in the EFL Trophy as worthwhile exercise despite being eliminated in the group stage.
The much-maligned competition has been slammed and fans up and down the country fans have boycotted the tournament with 16 of the 24 Checkatrade Trophy matches last night seeing an attendance of less than 1,000.
Chelsea’s youngsters were knocked out of the competition despite their penalty-shootout victory over Oxford United on Tuesday night, but academy head coach, Adi Viveash, thinks that his team has got a lot out of their participation.
Asked if it was benficial, Viveash replied: “I think for us as an academy, yes. I think we have obviously played a very, very young team in it. [On Tuesday] we obviously needed the power of the three players that had first-team experience.
“We were playing against a team who had 10 regulars on the pitch and that’s how desperate they were to try to get a result but we more than acquitted ourselves very well. A lot of the younger players will have learned [things].
“We had four of our best ones away with England this week so they would have been crying out for playing in that game but it is nice to finish with our best performance in front of a paying crowd for Chelsea and they will be thinking there are some bright players for the future.
The attendances of this week's Checkatrade Trophy group games pic.twitter.com/uEJUrcUv80
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“I think you learn that, when playing in league football, you get punished for very little mistakes. I think concentration and staying focused is a key part. We are talking about kids against men and they have worked tremendously hard to defend so well for long periods.”
The Blues were the highest-performing Premier League team to take part in the competition but their Under-23s side failed to progress against Exeter City, Swindon Town and Oxford.
Everton, West Ham, Stoke and Southampton also joined the competition, while Manchester United , Liverpool and Manchester City decided against joining.
“This year, obviously, it suited us to go in,” he added. “We made a decision and other so-called big clubs didn’t do it but there are a couple of Under-23s teams that have qualified so they’ve done it that way, by playing four or five senior players, and good luck to them.
“With all respect, I think, as an Under-23s team, we will hope one of those goes quite far in the competition and the league teams will be hoping that they won’t and that is the reality of it. What we have found with the teams that we have played is support for the competition. We have had three excellent games. All different, the three of them.
“For us, it has been a worthwhile exercise but the decision is not for me [whether Chelsea play in it again next year]. I don’t make the decisions. I am a coach [so] that’s not my job but I am sure the powers at be will discuss it and they will look at the programme.”