Chelsea’s army of loanees share a WhatsApp group with Carlo Cudicini and the other staff overseeing their progress. This morning, Armando Broja would have cause for being named their loan player of the weekend, even if his was only a late appearance as a substitute.
Cudicini and Co will be impressed by the report they receive on the kid they sent to Southampton. Broja, who turned 20 on Friday, was introduced in the 74th minute. In the 80th, he cleverly turned Tomas Soucek then struck a shot on to the post.
In the 90th, he thought he’d scored the winner from a corner but Declan Rice was on the line to clear his header.
Armando Broja only got 16 minutes game-time against West Ham but used it to impress
Ralph Hasenhuttl was unsure about the signing initially but was impressed by Saturday’s game
Broja packed more invention into his 16 minutes on the field than most did into 90. His speed was particularly impressive, as he made West Ham centre back Angelo Ogbonna look positively heavy-legged trying to keep up.
More of this and he will win over Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl soon enough. Broja was not a Hasenhuttl signing, you see. He was a recommendation from the scouting department and the Saints boss was not exactly thrilled with what he’d seen in training sessions.
So he had some ‘very serious conversations’ with Broja, telling him what to do. Now he’s happy.
‘He was a slow starter,’ said Hasenhuttl after Saturday’s stalemate. ‘But in the last two or three weeks, it is impressive how quick he learns and how quick he wants to do it better.
The Chelsea loanee almost scored a late winner but his header was cleared off the goal line
‘I’ve seen why we signed him and why the scouts wanted him to sign. You need to push him. Now he’s moving in the direction I want to see and he definitely shows qualities we haven’t had in the squad. That is what is very positive for me.’
As for West Ham, it is a measure of their progress that they left St Mary’s Stadium disappointed with only a point.
It is now two wins and two draws in the Premier League and next up is a European away day, their first since 2006. West Ham face Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia on Thursday.
For that they will have Michail Antonio available. But Antonio will miss Manchester United next weekend after two silly yellow cards — one for throwing Jack Stephens to the ground, the other for a lunge which David Moyes labelled ‘stupid’.