Following two Man of the Match displays, hype surrounding Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour has been rife. Simon Phillips believes it’s all positive, and encourages fans to think differently about building players up.
Billy Gilmour was the player on everyone’s lips this week after being the heartbeat behind two of Chelsea’s best performances and results this season.
First off, he orchestrated Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup last Tuesday, then, on Sunday, was pivotal again in our 4-0 win against Everton.
At just 18-years old, Gilmour oozes confidence, plays without fear, and technically is one of the best players in his age group worldwide. Naturally, social media has been rife with mentions of his name, and Gilmour rightfully deserves the plaudits.
But every time we have a young player explode onto the scene like this, why do we always get outcries to ‘stop over-hyping’ players?
I’ve never understood this. I’ll always rave about young talents coming through the ranks at Chelsea via my Twitter account, but am often greeted with the same concerns about ‘over-hype’, even with Gilmour.
Why shouldn’t we celebrate top young talents coming through and praise them publicly for how they have played and how much potential they have? I can only see it as a positive.
Look at Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney when they first burst onto the scene at a very young age. Owen scored for England against Argentina in the World Cup Finals at the age of 17 and people went nuts. I didn’t see it doing anything but benefit his career.
Surely if a player reads constant praise about the way they're playing, it’s only going to breed even more confidence, which is a hugely underrated positive. It’s all well and good having the talent, but if you lack that belief in your own ability, you’ll have problems.
If your fans, your manager, and those around you are praising what you’re doing, then it’s only going to reinforce to you how you should be playing.
Don’t get me wrong, I get the argument that by doing so you’re putting too much pressure on their shoulders, but that’s a mentality thing. If a player thinks that they’re highly rated, I only see it as a positive, and so should they.
Where you might experience issues is if a player goes from being hyped up to then being heavily or harshly criticised at a young age. This is where the negative effects come in and talk of being under too much pressure. This, I understand.
But if all you’re doing is simply praising the performance of a young player, such as Gilmour, it’s only going to fill them with the confidence they need to continue performing well on the pitch.
It’s then up to the managers and coaching staff to make sure the pressure doesn’t get too much for them to handle, by using them wisely in team selections and having good man-management skills.
Josh McEachran had a similar experience when he burst onto the scene with Chelsea, but he never made it. He was hyped up to start with and cemented a regular place in the Chelsea team. He was high on confidence.
But once his manager, Carlo Ancelotti, left, he was frozen out the side by André Villas-Boas and, as a result, his self-belief disappeared.
People began muttering that McEachran wasn’t good enough and the hype swiftly turned to criticism. This subsequently ended his career in the top leagues of professional football and he’s been plying his trade in the lower leagues ever since.
This is a prime example of why it’s actually important to build players up with praise, giving them the confidence and self-belief necessary to succeed from a young age. Mentally, it can make-or-break their whole career.
Follow Chelsea writer Simon Phillips on Twitter @SiPhillipsSport